Saturday, December 1, 2018

Before and After the Camp Fire in Magalia, CA



Here is my in-laws former house in Magalia, CA before and after the Camp Fire in November 2018.  They sold this house years ago and are safe.   We don't know the status of the current owners.  The pictures tell the story.

Near Riot at 2012 Plan Bay Area Workshops in Santa Rosa



Jake McKensie, Rohnert Park Politician and Regional Representative tries to calm the angry crowd at Plan One Bay Area Workshop in Santa Rosa. The workshops received similar reception across the Bay Area as people understood that this was a takeover of local governments and converting our local jurisdictions to an administrative technocracy. Years later, the MTC and ABAG continue to push their agenda. Most of the public has not waken up to the outrageous assault on our freedoms. In 2012, we had our first "One Bay Area" workshops and near riots broke out. The first people to object were a mix of housing activists and Tea Party groups espousing exotic conspiracy theories. Many dismissed them but they did shine a light on the huge injustice about to be imposed upon the people of the Bay Area. Others got involved. In Marin, long a bastion of environmentalism and intentional growth formed Citizen Marin, a non partisan coalition of local citizens. They understood that this "One Bay Area" plan was nothing but a smoke screen for developers and the destruction of communities just like Marincello in the 1960s. While none of the scenes in Marin were nearly this extreme, Plan Bay Area has awaken a sleeping giant and today, "The CASA COMPACT" is the full realization of the dream legislative prescription. If implemented, it will be the biggest takeover of local government in the history of the United States since the Civil War. We expect Marc Levine, Assemblyman, Mike McGuire, State Senator, and our local political leaders to back our sovereignty.  

Friday, November 30, 2018

How to Troll. First class of Troll College by Scott Adams




The trolls on NextDoor also troll this site. You know who they are if you are on NextDoor.  We are willing to engage with serious discussion but anonymous trolls will not have a platform here.  We welcome discussions of substance.

Marinwood and Lucas Valley residents ‘adopt’ Paradise families devastated by fire

Marin residents ‘adopt’ Paradise families devastated by fire






Jennifer Harris-Marks, left, and Suzanne Egan connect with their “adopted” families in Paradise on Monday at Harris-Marks’ home in San Rafael. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

By KERI BRENNER | kbrenner@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: November 26, 2018 at 11:22 am | UPDATED: November 28, 2018 at 5:23 am


It’s a deja vu that Jennifer Harris-Marks of Marinwood and Suzanne Egan of Lucas Valley didn’t really want to see all over again.

Even so, just as they did a year ago for the Wine Country fires in Sonoma and Napa counties, the two Marin mothers are now mobilized again to help victims of the Camp Fire in Butte County — and they are even more organized and high-tech than they were in 2017 during their first literal trial by fire.

“The message is, ‘Marin is here to help,'” said Harris-Marks, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Greenbrae and a former PTA president at Mary Silveira Elementary School. “I’m so slammed at work right now, but I just tell myself, ‘I don’t need to sleep.'”
The Baker family of Paradise lost many of their belongings in the Camp Fire. From left: Nicholas, Kirsten-Grace, Marvin and Karla.
(courtesy Baker family)

Harris-Marks, who has “adopted” the four-person Baker family from Paradise through the newly created Paradise Fire Adopt-a-Family Facebook page,made her comments as she was loading up Egan’s 2011 bronze Honda Odyssey mini-van — the same one Egan used last year — with books, clothes and stuffed animals to take up to Butte County on Tuesday.

Egan, who has “adopted” the two-person Southerland family through the Facebook page, was to spend the rest of Monday at pickup stops in Marin neighborhoods to collect more donations.

“We have coordinated points of contact,” said Egan, a former PTA president at Dixie Elementary School. “We learned a lot from last year.”

see the article HERE

North Korean defector survives starvation, brutal punishment and sex trafficking to come to the USA.




Thursday, November 29, 2018

Damon Connolly, Marin supervisor not sold on proposed solutions

Housing crisis plan discussed in luxury; Marin supervisor not sold on proposed solutions

In emails, Marin Supervisor Damon Connolly wrote that while the housing plan contains some good ideas, “there are significant problems with the approach.”(Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

By RICHARD HALSTEAD | rhalstead@marinij.com | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: November 28, 2018 at 5:26 pm | UPDATED: November 28, 2018 at 8:50 pm


Metropolitan Transportation Commission board members, including Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly, are meeting at the swank Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn this week to discuss a blockbuster new plan for addressing the Bay Area’s critical shortage of affordable housing.

The plan calls for generating $1.5 billion per year in new revenue over the next 20 to 25 years to achieve its goals. It would include new taxes and fees affecting property owners, developers, employers, local governments and taxpayers.

Marin critics of the MTC and its initiatives, such as Plan Bay Area, see the choice of venue as indicative of the commission’s hauteur.

“It smacks of decadence,” said Richard Hall of San Rafael. “While working to house people with low incomes, we have a group of politicians living it up at a wine resort in Sonoma.”

Some members of the commission will be staying overnight at the inn while attending the retreat, which cost the commission $29,000. Mission Inn’s amenities include a spa and a Michelin-rated restaurant; the Sonoma Golf Club is next door. The commission had Connolly on a list of attendees planning to spend the night, but he said Tuesday that was incorrect. See article HERE

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Marinwood CSD ugly tyrants censor speech

Brad Breithaupt: Sometimes local officials pay a price for speaking out


Posted:   02/08/2012 06:19:00 AM PST



THEY CAN PLAY political hardball in the Marinwood Community Services District.
Less than a month after the district board's fire tax proposal narrowly won voter approval, directors voted 5-0 to kick an outspoken opponent of the measure off the park and recreation commission.

Stephen Nestel [Editor's Note: that is yours truly.] bit the hand that appointed him. To be more accurate, he chomped and gnawed on it.

The board's fire tax increase won in November by just five votes more than the two-thirds required for passage. 

The results were announced on Nov. 18. Nestel was removed from the commission on Dec. 13.
The county has a long-standing policy that when someone is appointed by the board to a two- or four-year term they aren't removed until their term is finished.

In Marinwood, it just takes a three-vote majority of the board to remove someone mid-term.

One of the reasons given for Nestel's ouster was that he had been "disruptive" at a board-sponsored community forum. Nestel doesn't dispute that assessment. He was upset and complained at the meeting that its format was a one-sided "sales pitch" for the board-authored tax measure.

The board also complained that he was spreading "incorrect" information, a complaint Nestel doesn't agree with.

He also crossed the board by putting his title on letters he wrote, including one to the IJ's opinion page. [Editor's Note:  See the letter by a candidate supporting Measure H here. Incidentally, I agree with Measure H too, however the CSD Board says that this is different]

Bruce Anderson, CSD Director
"He had been warned before," said district board member Bruce Anderson, who put Nestel's removal on the board's agenda. It is wrong for commissioners to use their titles to give "stature" to their opinions, he said.  [ Bruce Anderson carried a business card proclaiming himself President of the Marinwood Association that represented residents of Marin. In October 2012 it was discovered that their non profit hadn't filed papers in over fifty years. Essentially the membership consisted of Bruce Anderson, Geoff Mack and a few political allies.  It was a complete humbug.]

District board members give that "stature" to people and, I guess, they can take it away. 

Nestel says he used his title because it gave his letter to the editor "context," informing readers that he had some insight into the district's operations and its budget.

It is not uncommon that officials, elected or appointed, include their titles when they write letters to the editor.

For instance, Sausalito City Council members Linda Pfeifer and Carolyn Ford haven't been shy about including their "context" or putting their political titles on letters and columns they have written expressing their individual opinions and opposition to the council-approved annexation into the Southern Marin Fire District.

Anderson says that's different because they are elected. "You are bound to the people who elected you," he says. "We're not supposedly kumbaya on our boards." [Editor Note: Bruce essentially claims "I own all appointees opinions". Maybe this is the reason the Park and Recreation commissioner entered the race for CSD] 

When you are elected, you have an individual responsibility to the people you have been elected to represent. [Bruce Anderson was originally appointed. Had only one competitive election and all others he has won by "default" when the CSD failed to vigorously notify the public of upcoming candidate's deadlines. The November 2012 elections were "announced" with 6 pt type like this deep inside a legal ad on a Monday morning in July 2011. The chance is pretty great that you have never had a chance to vote for anybody else ]

Some readers are irritated when I let council members or other elected officials who write use their titles in expressing political views, especially when they part company with their council or board's majority. 

Their titles provide context. They also reflect political trust and leadership, whether elected or appointed.

Some Marin councils and boards have policies that require members who write letters or columns to have them first screened by staff or the mayor or board president. 
That is wrong.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn't ask Republican Speaker John Boehner to review her comments before she makes them. I'm certain that Supervisor Judy Arnold doesn't run her comments past Supervisor Susan Adams for an OK.

Why should it be different for a city council member or a school trustee?

Should elected officials give up their right to express their individual opinions outside of meetings? They certainly express their individual views when they are running for office. 

When votes are cast and a council member is on the losing end of a vote, has he or she also lost their freedom of speech? 

Voters have a right to hear the individual opinions of their representatives, not just groupthink where dissent and free speech is supposed to end after the votes are cast and counted. 

Nestel's tactics may have crossed the line. The Marinwood board certainly agreed that they had and rewrote his "context" by removing the official title after his name.

Then again, even the title of "former commissioner" offers some context.

Brad Breithaupt is the IJ's opinion page editor. His column runs on Wednesdays.

It is time for Change.
[P.S. I supported the fire tax like the CSD board at the time as a practical matter .  The facts used to support the arguments for the measure did not tell the whole story of the CSD finances or the need for serious financial overhaul. The CSD objected to this public opinion.  We have seen a $1.2 Million Dollar deficit since the publication of article. Eventually, we can expect a push for a massive bond issue to bail out our debt instead of sensible cost reductions and budgeting].

Shut up or Else

MTC Heminger "CASA compact to tax the Bay $1.6 Billion per year for Housing will go Forward even WITHOUT APPROVAL"

Heminger tells the ABAG executive board that the CASA Compact to tax Bay Area residents will go to the legislature even if NO ELECTED OFFICIALS support it.  The plan calls for $1.6 Billion in new taxes and fees on Bay Area residents for housing subsidies.

MTC to discuss affordable housing at posh Sonoma retreat

Editorial: MTC to discuss affordable housing at posh Sonoma retreat

Metropolitan Transportation Commission holding $29,000 taxpayer-funded meeting at Wine Country inn

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is known for its fine-dining restaurant, Sante, and luxurious accommodations. (SonomaCounty.com)
By MERCURY NEWS & EAST BAY TIMES EDITORIAL BOARDS |
PUBLISHED: November 27, 2018 at 6:15 am | UPDATED: November 27, 2018 at 6:20 am


Talk about tone-deaf.

Members and staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are holding a $29,000 taxpayer-funded, overnight retreat this week at the posh Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, where the first order of business will include discussion of affordable housing.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Seventeen of the 21 commission members are expected to attend. Of those, 14 are expected to stay overnight, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. In addition, 15 commission staff members will attend and 12 will stay overnight.

The email invitation to commissioners calls for meeting from 1-5 p.m. on Wednesday and 8:30-noon on Thursday. Participants, who were offered single or double accommodations, will be provided meals and a night’s lodging at the resort, which is known for its spa, Michelin-rated restaurant and the neighboring Sonoma Golf Club.

It’s great that commissioners want to engage in serious discussion of policy issues. But the 7 1/2 hours of planned meetings could have, and should have, been held in one day in downtown San Francisco, where the transportation commission two years ago moved into a new $256 million regional government building.

The building was masterminded by outgoing Executive Director Steve Heminger, who deceived the public about the deal. The state auditor slammed MTC for bogus accounting on the project. And the state Legislature’s attorney questioned the legality of using bridge tolls for the building.

The least the commission could do is use the building, which is accessible by public transportation, for its meetings rather than gallivanting off to Wine Country. Especially just as it’s about to raise bridge tolls by another dollar Jan. 1.

But that’s not the mindset at MTC, where money seems to be no object to the executive director. It was Heminger who flew around the world on top-priced airline tickets at public expense. Fortunately, he plans to retire at the end of February. As we’ve said before, his departure can’t come soon enough.

All of this might have been easier to swallow if MTC were doing a good job. But have you looked at the Bay Area’s traffic lately? Or ridden public transit? Commutes take longer. Tolls are going up. Fares and property taxes are escalating.

MTC desperately needs fresh leadership. Commissioners are in the process of recruiting a new executive director. Heminger was an inside hire, promoted after his boss, Lawrence Dahms, retired in 2000. Between them, they have led the agency since 1977. Clearly it’s time for outside perspective.

But as the Sonoma Mission Inn extravagance shows, the commissioners are also part of the problem — equally out of touch with the reality of the commuters they serve.

In addition to Schaaf and Liccardo, the other commissioners staying overnight are: Damon Connolly, Marin County supervisor; Jim Spering, Solano County supervisor; Scott Haggerty, Alameda County supervisor; Warren Slocum, San Mateo County supervisor; Jeannie Bruins, Los Altos City Council; Carol Dutra-Vernaci, Union City mayor; Jake Mackenzie, Rohnert Park City Council; Julie Pierce, Clayton City Council; Amy Worth, Orinda City Council; Tony Tavares, California Transportation Department; Dorene M. Giacopini, U.S. Transportation Department; and Ann Halsted, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Most of them are selected for the commission by city or county officials from their regions. Perhaps it’s time for elected board members. Maybe if they were directly accountable to the voters they would have been sensitive to the cost and the optics of this two-day extravagance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Marinwood assisted-living project advances to supervisors

Marinwood assisted-living project advances to supervisors


The Oaks project, as depicted in a design rendering, would bring an assisted-living center with 126 apartment units and a memory care facility to Marinwood. (County of Marin)

By WILL HOUSTON | whouston@marinij.com |
PUBLISHED: November 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm | UPDATED: November 27, 2018 at 6:33 am


The Marin County Planning Commission gave its unanimous recommendation Monday to approve a long-delayed housing project in Marinwood.

“After all this time I’m actually quite pleased with where we have come out,” Commissioner Don Dickenson said.

Known as The Oaks, the project as proposed would create an assisted-living center with 126 apartment units and a memory care facility. Seventy-five of the units are reserved as assisted living. Another 51 are for either assisted living or independent living. The remaining five are affordable housing units.

The Oaks project, as depicted in a design rendering, would occupy a 9-acre tract along southbound Highway 101 between Miller Creek Road and Lucas Valley Road. (County of Marin)

The project now goes before the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The project site is a 9-acre vacant lot along the west side of Highway 101 between Lucas Valley Road and Marinwood Avenue in unincorporated San Rafael. The lot is owned by the Daphne Krestine Trust.

The Larkspur-based developer, Venture Senior Living LLC, proposes to construct two buildings — a 775,937-square-foot main building and a 25,853-square-foot memory care building — along with a subterranean parking garage.

This is a shift in the project layout from just two months ago.

At its Sept. 24 meeting, the commission called on Venture Senior Living to make several changes meant to reduce the overall size and to provide residents further screening from the nearby freeway.

Venture Corp. president Robert Eves told the commission Monday the company has developed an “absolutely terrific plan” to respond to the commission’s concerns. See full article HERE


See the Planning Commission meeting HERE

Monday, November 26, 2018

As the Truth comes out about the Shed, Outrage grows


Marinwood residents are getting restless at the lies.

As bomber pilots, say" You can tell when you are over the target. That is when the flack is the heaviest".   I am not on NextDoor but I understand that the architect, Bill Hansell and his willing allies are smearing me with personal attacks and calling critics of his plans "liars".   Funny thing is that he never addresses any specific criticism of the White Elephant project which is directed at the impractical aspects of a long drive through garage.   It is just relentless attacks.  

While I cannot blame Bill Hansell for wanting a payday for his project,  I'd prefer that he address concerns in a civil manner that respects public process.  

Here are a few questions I'd like answers to:

1.) Why a design with so much wasted space? Over 1/2 will need to remain open for access.
2.) The project was initially promoted as a garage/workshop that will hold vehicles, tools and materials.  Once the access limitations were pointed out, the project is now just a workshop and storage.   Do they now believe the vehicles are okay to be stored outside in the weather?
a.) Our guys only do projects a few times a month.  Is there need for a dedicated workshop? Won't a part time flexible space/garage be better?
b.) Why isn't a  design with side access doors being considered for cost and size savings? Why is the architects preference for "no garage doors" more important than worker's need for easy access, light and shop organization?  
3.) Why the insistence on "no door" design with so many limitations that it must be twice as big as necessary?
4.) Where will trucks turn around?  Are you aware that a Ford F250 needs approximately 30' circle to turn 180 degrees?
5.) Has ventilation and dust collection been considered in the the enclosed design?  Where will this be housed?  Is it noisy?
6,) What is the cost/budget for the project?   Why isn't this being discussed publicly?
7.) What do other parks departments use for garage/workshop? Shouldn't we build something similar to other successful designs?
8.) What do the workers think of the design? I have heard they hate the limitations/inefficiency of moving vehicles and equipment constantly for access and inaccessible storage
9.) Why can't we have story poles to establish the mass of the building and a 3D design of the building showing how the space "works"? Why isn't side and front elevation drawings available to the public?  The architectural drawings do not show the full building. 
10.) Why is the project being rushed for approval before public discussion?  Why should we trust the process?

Sign the Petition Here


The Big Lie: "Story poles are misleading"



The Marinwood CSD directors and the Architect, Bill Hansell tries to explain why they will not install story poles and lot markers to give the public an idea of the size of the Maintenance Compound.  The citizens have installed their own based on the architects drawing and have asked for "official lot markers and story poles" from the CSD so that the public understands the mass of the Maintenance compound.  CSD Director Perry gives a weak response that it will block the walking path .  (Just as the completed build will).  Then the architect condescends to respond to the public with more weak reasons.

We should certainly be able to agree on the actual dimensions of the building but clearly the Marinwood CSD and the architect want to avoid this.   We citizens will be sacrificing OUR Marinwood Park and paying for this "white elephant".  The very least we should require is full public disclosure about the size of the building.   We will continue our efforts to inform the public by any means necessary.

The new building is 14' high by 80' long with 70' storage yards.
It is FOUR TIMES the mass of the existing 1400 shed and 150' long. In addition, there will be a large outdoor day parking area in front of the compound leaving only a narrow footpath on the edge of the creek for access.

Ethics Guidelines/Contract Law that Marinwood CSD ignores





Ethics Guidelines/Contract Law that Marinwood CSD ignores

Marinwood CSD has shockingly poor business practices that ignores the law when contracting for goods and services.  Most recently the Marinwood CSD manager Eric Dreikosen hired a former politician, Bill Hansell to provide architectural services for the Marinwood Maintenance Compound. As Marinwood CSD Board member Bill Hansell hired current Marinwood CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen in 2015.  Quid pro quo? 

The architect selection was hidden from the public until the last possible moment.  Mr. Hansell has an OPEN ENDED CONTRACT for services rendered and the Marinwood CSD board will not reveal the cost estimates for the project.  

There needs to be an inquiry by a higher authority and if appropriate, remedial action should be instituted immediately.  The current project is THREE TIMES the size of previous project proposals and Hansell has blown past the initial consulting estimate of $12,000 for the complete project.    The latest estimate is that it will cost $400k to $600k for a utility garage compound according to Marinwood CSD Business Manager, Eric Dreikosen.   

Outrageous, especially because modular buildings used by EVERY OTHER Government agency in Marin County are a tenth of the cost.

Here are recommended bidding procedures for local agencies. Competitive bidding is required for projects more than $4000 by law.  Marinwood CSD does none of this.  Every dollar wasted by the Marinwood CSD is a tax on you.



The law that Marinwood CSD violates HERE


PUBLIC CONTRACT CODE - PCC

DIVISION 2. GENERAL PROVISIONS [1100 - 22355]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1981, Ch. 306. )

PART 3. CONTRACTING BY LOCAL AGENCIES [20100 - 22178]

  ( Part 3 added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11. )

CHAPTER 1. Local Agency Public Construction Act [20100 - 20929]

  ( Chapter 1 added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11. )


ARTICLE 3.5. Counties [20120 - 20147]
  ( Heading of Article 3.5 amended by Stats. 1984, Ch. 1128, Sec. 8. )

  
Whenever the estimated cost of construction of any wharf, chute, or other shipping facility, or of any hospital, almshouse, courthouse, jail, historical museum, aquarium, county free library building, branch library building, art gallery, art institute, exposition building, stadium, coliseum, sports arena or sports pavilion or other building for holding sports events, athletic contests, contests of skill, exhibitions, spectacles and other public meetings, or other public building or the cost of any painting, or repairs thereto exceeds the sum of four thousand dollars ($4,000), inclusive of the estimated costs of materials or supplies to be furnished pursuant to Section 20131, the work shall be done by contract. Any such contract not let pursuant to this article is void.
(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11.)

  
20125.
  
The board shall cause an advertisement for bids for the performance of the work to be published pursuant to Section 6062 of the Government Code in a daily newspaper, or pursuant to Section 6066 of the Government Code in a weekly newspaper, of general circulation published in the county. If there is no such newspaper published in the county, the notice shall be given by posting in three public places for at least two weeks.
(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11.)

20127.
  
All bidders shall be afforded opportunity to examine the plans, specifications, strain sheets, and working details.
(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11.)
20128.
  
The board shall award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder, and the person to whom the contract is awarded shall perform the work in accordance with the plans, specifications, strain sheets, and working details, unless the contract is modified by a four-fifths vote of the board.
(Added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 465, Sec. 11.)

When average workers reach the boiling point.. French Revolt over Crushing Taxes

Paris protest: ‘People are in the red. They can’t afford to eat’


Kim Willsher in Paris


The Observer


People from across France came to the capital to let the president know how they feel about the new tariffs

Sat 24 Nov 2018 16.40 ESTLast modified on Sat 24 Nov 2018 18.53 EST

A protester wearing the gilet jaune stands on a traffic light on the Champs-Elysee in Paris. Photograph: Benoît Tessier/Reuters


Idir Ghanes, 42

Unemployed computer technician from Paris






FacebookTwitterPinterest Photograph: Laura Stevens for the Observer

We are here to protest against the government because of the rise in taxes [in general], not just petrol taxes, which is the straw that broke the camel’s back. We’ve had enough. We have low salaries and pay too much tax and the combination is creating more and more poverty.

On the other side, there are government ministers and the president with their fabulous salaries. I’m not against the rich, I just want a fairer distribution of wealth in France. This is the first time I’ve been on a protest. I’m unemployed; it’s harder and harder to find a job and, even when you find this famous job and you think your life will improve, the salaries are so low you find you’re in the same situation as before, if not worse.




French 'gilets jaunes' protests turn violent on the streets of Paris


At the last election, I left the ballot paper blank. I don’t have confidence in any of the political parties and I don’t see that changing until a party emerges that is more interested in the people than in those with huge fortunes. It’s unacceptable that people do not have decent salaries, that at the end of the month, they are in the red and can’t afford to eat.

Florence, 55


Works for an air freight company outside Paris




FacebookTwitterPinterest Photograph: Laura Stevens for the Observer

We tell them our concerns and we elect them, then when they get into power they seem astonished when we come out on the streets like today to protest. It’s as if the protests have just fallen from the sky, when we’ve already told them how we feel.

Above all, President Macron has not listened to the ordinary French and doesn’t understand the concerns of their daily lives. When he appears on television we have the impression he is uncomfortable with normal people, that there is a certain contempt for us.

I didn’t vote for him. I haven’t voted for a while. When I did, I would describe myself as moderate right, centre right.

Bruno Binelli, 66

Retired carpenter from Lyon




FacebookTwitterPinterest Photograph: Laura Stevens for the Observer

We left just after midnight to come here today. There are so many things we are fed up with. We work, we pay taxes, but it’s all too much. To give you an example; my aunt died recently and left €40,000. She worked all her life, she paid her taxes and charges, but the government took 60% of that. Does that seem fair?


I’m not in any political party. I often vote Front National but I’m not Front National. It’s not my mentality and, besides, I’m Italian by origin, but I do it out of protest to say things are not good and if you continue like this we will end up with electing someone from the extreme right. But they don’t listen to us. Macron listens to nothing.


He’s suddenly concerned about ecology but it’s a lie, it’s a pretext to make us pay more tax. We no longer know what kind of car to buy, petrol, diesel, electric, who knows? I have a little diesel van and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, especially as I’m about to retire. We have the feeling those from the countryside are forgotten.

Marie Lemoine, 62

School teacher from Provins




FacebookTwitterPinterest Photograph: Laura Stevens for the Observer

I came here in a car share to save money and to not pollute the planet even more. We gilets jaunes (yellow vests) represent the poor of France, those they call the sans-dents (toothless), those with modest or low incomes, who are being crushed.

If you live in the countryside you have to have a car to get to work, so we are directly affected when fuel prices go up and up. And when the electricity bill goes up and up, and the gas bill, and the charges and taxes, it’s hard to bear. We feel we are being targeted instead of the airlines, the shipping lines, those companies who pollute more but pay no tax.

Personally, I have the means to get by, but I know many people who cannot and I’m here for them. I’m here for my children and grandchildren and all those people left crying by the 15th of the month because they’ve gone into the red.

I’m not right or left, I’m a gilet jaune. We’re not here to make a political party point. Most of us are pacifists and don’t want to fight. We are just normal people who are fed up. I voted for Mr Macron last year, but I feel betrayed and I’m angry. I was wrong.

Macron is our Louis XVI, and we know what happened to him. He ended up at the guillotine.

Marc Mouilleseaux, 24

History and geography teacher at the lycée in Creil





FacebookTwitterPinterest Photograph: Laura Stevens for the Observer


I’m fortunate as I’m a public servant, so I’m not complaining about pay. I’m here for others in my family who are having difficulties, like my grandmother who has been hit hard by the new tax on pensions. I also know people who wanted to come to the demonstration in Paris today to protest about the tax on petrol but can’t because they cannot afford the petrol.


But it’s not just that, it’s an accumulation of things. The fuel tax was just the final straw. I don’t hold out much hope that Macron will listen to us and I’m quite resigned to that. All we can do is show that people are angry, that they are not alone and that they can do something about it. I hope there is no violence, but people are angry. I can understand why, for years they have voted for things and nothing has changed for them. They don’t see a way out. But things have to change.


I am a member of Debout la France (a rightwing party) so I’m involved in politics. I voted for Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election, but only because, for me, she was the least bad option.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Androclus and the Lion



 

ANDROCLUS AND THE LION

IN Rome there was once a poor slave whose name was Androclus. His master was a cruel man, and so unkind to him that at last Androclus ran away.

He hid himself in a wild wood for many days; but there was no food to be found, and he grew so weak and sick that he thought he should die. So one day he crept into a cave and lay down, and soon he was fast asleep.

After awhile a great noise woke him up. A lion had come into the cave, and was roaring loudly. [88] Androclus was very much afraid, for he felt sure that the beast would kill him. Soon, however, he saw that the lion was not angry, but that he limped as though his foot hurt him.

Then Androclus grew so bold that he took hold of the lion's lame paw to see what was the matter. The lion stood quite still, and rubbed his head against the man's shoulder. He seemed to say,—

"I know that you will help me."

Androclus lifted the paw from the ground, and saw that it was a long, sharp thorn which hurt the lion so much. He took the end of the thorn in his fingers; then he gave a strong, quick pull, and out it came. The lion was full of joy. He jumped about like a dog, and licked the hands and feet of his new friend.

Androclus was not at all afraid after this; and when night came, he and the lion lay down and slept side by side.

For a long time, the lion brought food to Androclus every day; and the two became such good friends, that Androclus found his new life a very happy one.

One day some soldiers who were passing through the wood found Androclus in the cave. They knew who he was, and so took him back to Rome.

 It was the law at that time that every slave who ran away from his master should be made to fight a hungry lion. So a fierce lion was shut up for a while without food, and a time was set for the fight.

When the day came, thousands of people crowded to see the sport. They went to such places at that time very much as people now-a-days, go to see a circus show or a game of baseball.

The door opened, and poor Androclus was brought in. He was almost dead with fear, for the roars of the lion could already be heard. He looked up, and saw that there was no pity in the thousands of faces around him.

Then the hungry lion rushed in. With a single bound he reached the poor slave. Androclus gave a great cry, not of fear, but of gladness. It was his old friend, the lion of the cave.
The people, who had expected to see the man killed by the lion, were filled with wonder. They saw Androclus put his arms around the lion's neck; they saw the lion lie down at his feet, and lick them lovingly; they saw the great beast rub his head against the slave's face as though he wanted to be petted. They could not understand what it all meant.

After a while they asked Androclus to tell them about it. So he stood up before them, and, with his arm around the lion's neck, told how he and the beast had lived together in the cave.

[Illustration]

Androclus and the Lion

"I am a man," he said; "but no man has ever befriended me. This poor lion alone has been kind to me; and we love each other as brothers."
The people were not so bad that they could be cruel to the poor slave now. "Live and be free!" they cried. "Live and be free!"
Others cried, "Let the lion go free too! Give both of them their liberty!"
And so Androclus was set free, and the lion was given to him for his own. And they lived together in Rome for many years.

Sunday Essay: Familiar Strangers, Strange Familiars

Familiar Strangers, Strange Familiars

Which flag do you fly? the man sitting next to me on the train asks, carefully looking at me. I’ve been staring out the window for the past three hours, using my iPhone to document Chinese landscapes of Olympian construction sites and fields of trees planted with military precision. I’m confused and a little scared by his question, so I answer, I have an American passport. He seems satisfied. You’re a foreigner, he says. When he extracts his wallet to pay for a foil-wrapped meal, I see a red hammer and sickle on his identification card.
A photo of the author and her cousin in their grandfather’s bedroom in Fuzhou, China.
A photo of the author and her cousin in their grandfather’s bedroom in Fuzhou, China.
When I was five years old, I left home with a stranger I was told to call Auntie Wang. I had been living with my grandparents since I was born, with only faint memories of my parents, who left for the United States when I was a toddler. I don’t recall how I was informed of my family’s decision to send me to the US, but I do remember the sting of my immunization shots and being suddenly put on a diet of English vocabulary. My grandparents’ strategy for minimizing my terrified crying was to assure me I could return to China after a week if I didn’t like living with my parents in the US. At the airport, I tried to hold Auntie Wang’s stone hand; my chattering was greeted with silence. I had thought I was going to attend first grade with my best friend, Wang Fan. I was going to catch tadpoles in a lotion jar, eat fireflies in the waning light, spit brown gum into the twisted concrete pond full of lily pads. In old photos my home is a haze of gray quadrangles, but I remember it as the yellow of ducks and the viridian corduroy of my winter coat. I boarded the plane with a faint recollection of my mother’s voice dissolving unevenly into the black thread of a cassette tape.
In the air I had no books to read and my chaperone closed her eyes in exhaustion. So I slipped away to hide — but after I accidentally locked myself in the bathroom I cried hysterically, throwing my fists against the door as I succumbed to nightmares of being abandoned in the airplane after its arrival in the United States. I did not trust Auntie Wang to come searching for me, but she was the one who kicked open the door and pulled me out. It was June. Sticky in Luoyang, heavy with the heated cries of cicadas.

See the full article HERE

Marinwood CSD Full Meeting 11/13/2018