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February 2010

Why They Call New Orleans "The Big Easy"

Correction of the Week

“I am sorry to disappoint all the readers who wished to apply for the position, but New Orleans does not employ a ‘sex assessor.’ That was a misprint in Wednesday’s column. It should have read ‘tax assessor.’ Slips don’t come much more Freudian than that.” – Times-Picayune http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2010/02/new_orleans_mayor_ray_nagins_m.html


HMB School Budget Cuts Unless Tax Passes

Cabrillo Unified School District in Half Moon Bay will cut high school counselors, librarian, all athletics funding, and all class-size reduction if the proposed parcel tax does not pass. The school board voted to accept Superintendent Rob Gaskill's proposed cuts from the district's budget, designed close to the district's forecast budget deficit for 2010-11 school year, at an increasingly emotional meeting in the Cunha Intermediate School library. The district forecasts a $2.5 million budget shortfall if its proposed five-year $150/year parcel tax does not pass, and $1.0 million if the tax passes. Superintendent Gaskill also noted that the cuts were reduced by a one-time federal stimulus payment of $545,000 and that this money will have to be made up in the 2011-12 school year. The complete list of cuts is at COASTSIDER.COM

Medicare for All

Here are President Obama's health care reform goals and our responses:

1. Expand coverage and provide more Americans health care – Improved Medicare for All will provide comprehensive medical, mental, dental, vision and prescription coverage to all people (everybody in, nobody out) living in the United States from birth to death without gaps. No system based on private insurance can make the same guarantee.

2. End insurance company abuses – Improved Medicare for All will remove the expensive and bloated private insurance bureaucracy from our health care system and effectively end their profit-driven practices of denying and restricting coverage. All people in America will enjoy the same sense of security that those with traditional Medicare currently feel in knowing that necessary care will be covered and that their coverage cannot be taken away. Medicare is accountable to the public, rather than to investors.

3. Control health care costs – Improved Medicare for All is the only solution with built-in cost controls. There will be immediate savings of $400 billion per year simply by removing the high administrative and marketing costs that come with having over 1,300 different private insurance plans. Additional savings will arise through negotiations for fair pharmaceutical prices as Wal-Mart does now.

4. Decrease the deficit – Improved Medicare for All is the only solution which will put the brakes on our health care costs which are spiraling out of control. Further positive effects on the economy will occur as businesses are relieved of the financial burden of paying for health benefits allowing them to focus on building their business, raising wages and competing in the global market. Having less volatility in health care prices will allow businesses to hire more employees, thereby spurring job growth.

5. Stabilize Medicare – Improved Medicare for All will finally relieve the financial stress which is placed on Medicare from providing coverage for those who have the greatest health care needs – those who are disabled or who are 65 years of age and older. Everybody, healthy and ill, will contribute to the Medicare fund throughout their lives knowing that Medicare will be there for them when they need it.

No matter what the Congress and president do, if anything, the time is now to lay the foundation for a real health care reform movement that cannot be ignored. Payer Now is a statewide grassroots advocacy group based in San Francisco. It educates and trains activists to advocate for health care minus the insurance industry. In California, it works toward the enactment into law of SB 810, the California Universal Healthcare Act; and in Congress, HR 676, the U.S. National Healthcare Act. For more information, call Don Bechler at 415-810-5826, email DON BECHLER, or visit SINGLE PAYER NOW

Warning: Roof Repair Scammers Prey on Elderly

Message from a friend: "Caucasian couple driving late 80s or early 90s white car (like a Chevy Cavalier) going to elderly folks' homes posing as roofing company employees checking for leaks. They say they need to check for leaks after the heavy rains, even when roof work has been done recently. One victim was taken for $3,400. When the crooks followed the victim to the bank, the cops supposedly got the surveillance videotape. The scammers took the victim's credit cards to Emeryville and used them there. Warn anybody you know. The bad guy was a little rough, so have folks be careful."


Big Wave Site Visit Postponed @ Moss Beach

San Mateo County Planning Commission has postponed its planned visit to the site of the Big Wave development in Moss Beach. The cost of updating the project's draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has caused a cascade of delays. Because the consultant requires more money to complete the EIR, release of the final report has been delayed. The Planning Commission has delayed its scheduled March 10 hearing until the final EIR is completed. This led the developer to delay putting up story poles until the minimum 10 days before the hearing, and the Planning Commission has delayed its site visit until the story poles are erected. (Phew, now that's what we call a daisy chain of delays. Did you follow that?) Click COASTSIDER.COM for more on this project and to follow its progress—or lack thereof.


Big Pharma Blocks Basic Health Care Insurance

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123889454&ft=1&f=13
Big Pharma [the pharmaceutical industry) and Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, made a deal to undo any plans for a single-payer health care plan. Last year, Big Pharma met with Baucus and committee in Washington to ensure their cash profits remain in place. This is what they got:
  • Americans may not go to 1st world countries such as Canada to fill prescriptions. where they cost at least 3O% less
  • Preexisting conditions are still valid reason for denial of coverage.
  • No single-payer Medicare-like program for all Americans.
Who was involved? Every Big Pharma, including Roche Group and Amgen:
http://assets.sunlightfoundation.com/images/blog/infographics/finance_committee/baucus_sfc_health.html

To change this, contact Senator Dianne Feinstein:
http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUS.EmailMe
Senator Barbara Boxer:
http://boxer.senate.gov/en/contact/  
Congressmember Jackie Speier:
http://speier.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=159&sectiontree=54,159

Ask them why they haven't spoken out about single payer and why they are silent as California's Big Pharma actively works to make sure that all Americans do not have basic health care coverage.
 
  (from a concerned Riptide reader)
 
       

Sacramento Raiders: Economy vs. Environment

State’s main environmental law targeted on broad front
By John Howard 02/23/10 12:00 AM PST SACRAMENTO BEE [sacbee.com]
Years of exemptions from California’s principal environmental protection law are being crafted in the Capitol by the Schwarzenegger administration and lawmakers in both parties, who believe speedy approval of dozens of projects, public and private, will create jobs and spur economic growth. The projects are potentially worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs -- although just how much money and how many jobs have not yet been identified. "If there is a list, if it exists, nobody has seen it," one Capitol staffer said. "California is going through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," said Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa, author of one of the exemption bills. "This continues to provide environmental protection and balances that with the opportunity to create jobs." Environmentalists say the proposed end-run around the California Environmental Quality Act constitutes one of the most significant changes to CEQA since the law was written 40 years ago and inspired environmental legislation across the country. CEQA is a frequent target of lawsuits and legislation. Four bills – two in each house – contain Schwarzenegger’s proposal to exempt 25 projects, selected geographically by county, from court review and CEQA each year through 2014. Two of the bills are regular-session measures, the other two were introduced in the 8th Special Session. All are mirror images of each other. Privately, those familiar with the legislation say there is a scramble among lobbyists to get clients’ projects on the exemption list. The proposals are supported by manufacturers, builders, engineers, developers, business interests and others. They say the proposals will expedite construction of numerous, still-unknown projects and jumpstart the weak economy. They restrict the power of the courts to review the projects and give final authority over the projects to the administration. The projects could range from refineries to commercial development, housing tracts, highways and water works, among others. A fifth bill, which would apply retroactively, would exempt critical infrastructure projects for flood control, highways, port security, disaster preparedness and air quality. The proposal is similar to a plan that was proposed last year and rejected. Funding for the projects was approved by voters in 2006 as Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion transportation bond, and Proposition 1E, the $4.1 billion flood protection bond. Of the funding that was approved, about $16 billion worth of bond funding remains unissued. The measures containing the administration’s proposals have Democratic and Republican authors. The fifth bill, the infrastructure plan, is authored by Senate GOP Leader Dennis Hollingsworth. CEQA has long been a target of developers, builders, manufacturers, timber and mining interests and others, but the latest series of bills seeking changes is unusual for their number and scope, observers say. They cite the Legislature’s earlier approval of exemptions for air-emission credits for the South Coast Air Quality Management District and a proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles County as the progenitors of the latest legislation. Those two proposals constituted the most significant environment-related legislation of 2009. "We said at the time that they would encourage more of these proposals, and it’s done exactly that," said Bill Magavern of Sierra Club California. "We’re seeing a stepped-up attack on CEQA this year, and I think we’re seeing development interests using the recession as an excuse for the CEQA rollbacks that they have been gunning for." The administration’s proposal, reported by Capitol Weekly in January, is being carried in the Assembly as AB1805 and AB37 8x by Assemblymen Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, and Brian Nestande, R-Riverside. In the Senate, Sens. Correa and Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno, are authoring virtually identical bills, SB 42 8x and SB 1010. The infrastructure exemptions are contained in SB 56 by Hollingsworth, R-Murietta. The administration’s proposal allows exemptions for at least 25 construction projects located across California. Ten would be chosen from Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties; five from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties; five from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare; and five projects located in the rest of the state. The proposal, which includes a provision for at least one public hearing and legislative input, gives final authority over the projects to the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, or BTH, a cabinet-level superagency whose secretary, a gubernatorial appointee, reports directly to the governor. The goal of the governor’s proposal is to expedite projects that would generate jobs and stimulate the sluggish economy. The proposal sets up a timetable for projects to be approved, and allows for approval if the entity seeking the project expects the project ultimately to receive environmental approval. If the project fails the environmental certification, the BTH can choose alternates. The plan calls for BTH to give lawmakers and the public a list of the projects that win final approval. Environmentalists said the governor’s plan would weaken environmental safeguards, and questioned whether the language barring court review would pass constitutional muster. Last year, the governor signed AB 81 3X by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, that streamlined certain CEQA requirements to construct a new NFL stadium in the City of Industry. The stadium proposal, already exempted, would not be covered by the latest legislation. The governor also signed SB 827 by Sen. Rod Wright, D-Los Angeles, with an estimated $4 billion economic impact affecting some 65,000 jobs in the L.A. basin. The bill allows air regulators to distribute valuable emissions credits in the way they did before the courts, responding to environmentalists, blocked them.



       

Nothing Can Go Wrong—Go Wrong—Go Wrong

Bernie Borok noticed photo captions on the front page of the February 18 S.F. Chronicle Bay Area section were just placeholder copy: "Photo caption Dummy text goes here. Dummy text goes here." Reminds us of that recording "Nothing can go wrong...go wrong...go wrong."

CORRECTION: We originally said the recording was from a Twilight Zone episode, but Riptide reader Brad says it was Yul Brynner's malfunctioning robocop in Westworld (1973).


San Bruno Mountain Watch Continues Fight to Save Habitat Despite Brisbane Council Vote

On February 16, the Brisbane City Council voted unanimously to approve the Northeast Ridge EIR addendum, allowing Brookfield Homes to complete their development on San Bruno Mountain. It was a hard verdict for Mountain Watch and the community to swallow.
 
Most of the council members would not vote for this project were it new, and most of them cited a belief that if they did NOT approve the project, Brookfield would be allowed to build out their 1989 plan.  Brookfield's attorneys had threatened to pursue this course, and all agreed that the 2007 plan is preferable.
 
We believe that the 1989 plan could not be built.  In 1989, PG&E had estimated this to cost $2,500,000 - $10,000,000 in today's dollars, and we know from cost over runs on most construction projects recently, that construction costs have outstripped inflation. New 'kill permits" would have to be issued, along with environmental review for moving the towers, and bringing utilities to the site. All these factors make building on Callippe Hill prohibitive: we believe the 2007 plan represents a solution to Brookfield's problems on Callippe Hill, and not an altruistic gesture.
 
In the end, all of our experience on the mountain, our experts, our well-researched comments, and the emotional pleas for the council to represent the people's point of view, were not enough to overcome the powers that be -- the US Fish and Wildlife Service, San Mateo County, Brisbane City Staff, and Brookfield itself.
 
The council took as experts only those people who argued in favor of the project, which included the city staff.  The city staff invited other like-minded experts to speak. They spoke first, they spoke last, and the council asked questions only of them.  Personally, I find such a format inadequate for making fair and intelligent decisions.  It is, perhaps, one reason why so few citizens get involved with council meetings, and why so many are frustrated with government.
 
Thanks to all of you who have supported us in this all-out effort to modify this project.  You sent hundreds of emails and letters, packed the Brisbane City Council chambers, thousands of you read our documentation and watched video presentations on our website and on YouTube, and you helped to bring attention to-in the press and the general environmental community-an issue that another community might have overlooked.
 
The fight is not yet over. San Bruno Mountain Watch's ongoing legal challenge against San Mateo County's "Negative Declaration" for the project makes it possible that project modifications might still be made.  So we are still committed to finding a win-win option that benefits the environment and the community.
 
Please keep in mind that advocacy is only one way that we pursue our mission of preserving San Bruno Mountain in perpetuity.  We also have active programs in stewardship, education, and land conservation, and we welcome your participation.  Check our website for the public calendar of activities.
 
Remember, San Bruno Mountain Watch isn't just an organization that has a membership, it's a state of mind, one that puts the earth and the preservation of this special place among the top of the priorities in our lives.  Again, we thank you for your support and hope to see you on  the mountain.

Ken McIntire for San Bruno Mountain Watch

 


Anita Rees Heads Pacifica Resource Center

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Riptide welcomes Anita Rees, new executive director of Pacifica Resource Center (PRC). The PACIFICA TRIBUNE announced Anita's arrival.
In January, PRC supported nearly 400 Pacificans from 160 families with food from the PRC food pantry. PRC also assisted Pacificans like Mr. M., a homeless father living in a tent on the beach. Through intensive case management, PRC helped Mr. M. move out of the cold and into a warm home. He plans to seize this opportunity to catch up on his union dues and return to work. (Story by Ann Cooney, PRC case manager; photo by Nancy Russell)


Kids 4 Change Make Lots of Change

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If you have found time between downpours to take a stroll along the curvy trail at Rockaway, or have been able to enjoy the huge surf there in the past few weeks, you may have noticed that the trail and beach areas are a little bit cleaner than usual. For their first project of the year, Kids 4 Change decided to clean up. Ten children spent time collecting six bags of trash from our beautiful coastline. Ranging in age from 5 to 8, these children are part of local nonprofit Kids 4 Change, which teaches kids that even small actions can make great change. The kids vote on a service to perform in their community, a way to raise money, and a recipient of their hard-earned cash. This project raised more than $135 to be split between Habitat for Humanity and a project in the Philippines through KIVA, a microlending organization.  

On February 12, Kids 4 Change teamed up with Ocean Shore School to increase awareness within our community about heart disease. Ocean Shore teachers educated students about how to keep their hearts healthy, and each student designed a Valentine's Day Card to sell. They raised more than $200 on behalf of the HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY ASSOCIATION and CHILDREN'S CARDIOMYOPATHY FOUNDATION, the leading organizations for funding research and supporting families with these life-threatening conditions. Cardiomyopathy is a chronic disease of the heart that can lead to heart failure and/or sudden death in severe cases. Some 600,000 people in the U.S. suffer from it, and one in 100,000 children are diagnosed every year with it. Cardiomyopathy in children can be acquired (e.g., viral infection or cancer chemotherapy) or inherited through one or both parents.

Kids 4 Change is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that runs charitable projects for children throughout the year. Kids 4 Change empowers our children with the knowledge and tools necessary to act on their innate sense of compassion and to become responsible stewards of society and the environment by committing personal time, ideas, and resources to improving the lives of those less fortunate. For more information or to join a project, visit http://www.kids4change.org.

Photos by Holman Photography. Below: Kaiya and Paige. Above: front row, left to right--Kaiya, Nate, Paige, Peter, Lucca, Calvin, Isaac, Hudson, Solia, Keaton, Ely, Sylvana; back row, left to right--Karla Robbins, Catherine Mehrling, Kim Jones, Amy Mayo, Sarah Northrop.

Jody Webster
Founder & President, Kids 4 Change
http://www.kids4change.org

Teaching kids that small, charitable actions can make a big change

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Safe Driving in Wet Weather

Attachment (Preview document)[35]

BY BRUCE HOTCHKISS, RIPTIDE CORRESPONDENT

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” The rain may go away, but you can rest assured that if it is winter in California, the rain will return. And just as assuredly, people will drive like idiots and smash into something. It doesn’t have to be that way. Driving in the rain is not that difficult. Really. Believe me. I actually enjoy driving in adverse weather conditions; it forces me to become more aware of all that is going on around me. Driving in the rain involves more than getting into the zone, though. Before even getting behind the wheel, it is essential that your vehicle is up to the task. Tires, windshield wipers, brakes, steering, lights, and the climate control system (heater/defroster) need to be in tiptop shape.

Tires may seem the most obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people are out there speeding along with subpar tires. Tires must be able to disperse water or they will ride up on a cushion of water, otherwise known as hydroplaning. Riding on water is fine for a boat, not so fine for a car. Tires need to grip the road so you can brake and steer. If they are boating along on water there is no grip. So to disperse water, a tire must have sufficient tread to either channel the water or push it out to the sides. Ordinarily, if a tire is worn down to its tread wear bars, it should be replaced. In wet weather, grip is drastically reduced long before a tire is worn down to its wear bars. The newer the tire, the better the grip. Conversely, the more worn the tire is, the more cautious the driver must be. For maximum safety, have your tires checked by a professional prior to the start of the rainy season.

Windshield wipers may seem like an obvious item to check. I’d suggest replacing the wiper blades once a year, probably in early fall. Along with new wiper blades, fill up the windshield washer fluid with good-quality washer fluid. I’m partial to windshield washer antifreeze because it usually cuts through oily grime easier, but it is hard to find.

Brakes are always important, but a brake that grabs in wet, slippery conditions can be deadly. If you notice the slightest pull to one side or the other when braking, get the brakes checked and repaired.

The steering system needs to be tiptop, too. Any play in the steering may mean small corrections in the dry, but in the wet those small corrections may be magnified. Slow and steady is the way to go in the wet, but sloppy steering may be deadly.

During the rainy season all of my commuting is done in the dark. I depend on my vehicle’s headlights to show me the way, and I depend on the taillights to make sure I am seen. Whether you drive in the dark or not, make sure all lights on your vehicle work properly. Remember, the law states that you must have your headlights and taillights on when you use your windshield wipers.

The climate control system is often overlooked. I know because I see way too many cars with fogged-up windows. Make sure the defroster delivers proper airflow to the windshield, and check the coolant thermostat to ensure the coolant reaches its proper operating temperature quickly. If your vehicle has a separate air conditioning button, turn it on; it will aid in defrosting the windshield. Do not use the recirculation button because it will only recycle warm, moist air, fogging the windows.

Okay, now that you’ve got your vehicle in shape, it’s time to head out on the road. Slow(er), smooth, and steady is the rule. Quick moves may be deadly. Do not jerk the wheel, stab the brakes, or jump on the accelerator. Learn to read the road. Look as far forward as possible. “They” say to look at the horizon, but that’s impossible in traffic. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. If you hit a puddle of standing water, do not panic, hold onto the steering wheel, ease off the gas, and STAY OFF THE BRAKES.

In my not-so-humble opinion, the majority of collisions happen because a driver did something stupid. This is especially the case in bad weather. I am well known for my fast driving, but I routinely cut my speed in the rain. I often have cars whizzing by me on 280. How many of them will end up in the guardrail or ditch? Will it be you?


Pacifica: What's in a Name?

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Remember when the Pacifica Tribune published items about things named PACIFICA? There was the short-lived Chrysler Pacifica SUV, Fresh Express Pacifica bagged salad, and so forth. We just found some in the February 2010 Costco Connections, including the fountain above. Check out Costco's extensive line of Pacifica-branded home furnishings: ALL THINGS PACIFICA

Judy Tugendreich says: "If you are still collecting names of things that have Pacifica in them, I just encountered this one: http://www.musicapacifica.org/

Got a Pacifica item? Click COMMENTS below and send it to us. Thanks.