Posts Tagged With: activist

ENGAGING DEMOCRACY

dsc08568-copyBetty Yee, California State Controller, came to Murphys to speak to a crowd of interested people. One man traveled all the way from Fresno to hear her speak.  She was invited by the Calaveras County Democratic Central Committee. She mingled with those present discussing  issues and answering questions before giving her speech.

dsc08561-copyTom Pratt is the President of the Central Committee and he has managed to organize and inspire political action that has been lacking for some time-no easy feat. Member Sally Kaplan was one of the chief organizers of this event.

dsc08564-copyThis lovely lady, Martha Gamez is a regional organizer for California Democrats, and she gives vital advice and assistance in getting out the vote and registering voters in various districts. She is dedicated to engaging Democracy and making it work.

dsc08563-copyTom Garamendi, left, Calaveras County Supervisor Elect, attended and visited with the crowd while waiting for Betty Yee to speak. She is the Chief Financial Officer in the sixth largest economy in the world. Does she report to the Governor? No. Her roll is deliberately independent. Thus her decisions are not beholden to any whim of the Governor.

dsc08560-copyElisa Garrin and Karen Kaua were tablemates and we talked a good bit about how un-engaged young people seem to be about voting and elections as though elections don’t affect them. Many people no longer read a newspaper. Sound bites and Twitter, and other social media don’t cover issues like a good editorial magazine and especially a newspaper. Even television news is often skewed by divisions over party unless you stick predominantly to PBS. dsc08556-copyHolly Mines and Bertha Underhill, deep in conversation. I took a lot of random pictures of people I do not know. But, Bertha presented Betty Yee with a frog from our county and I missed the shot. The only picture I got of Betty Yee  is while she was mingling with the crowd.

dsc08573-copyWhile I post pictures of those attending the brunch we shared at the Historic Murphys Hotel, I’d like to talk about what the office of the State Controller does for us. She reports on the financial state of the State and administers various taxes. Her office writes 28 million warrants (checks) per year. She audits spending to make sure our tax dollars are spent as the law intended.

dsc08576-copyAnother part of her duties is the State Personnel/Payroll for all state employees and the California State University system.

dsc08569-copyAnd, she manages two of the largest public pension funds in the nation. To keep her finger on the pulse of the state, she serves on 78 state commissions and boards. (Ross Alford, right, was the only member of the press at the meeting.)

dsc08572-copyThis couple from Copperopolis are well informed. But, I was stunned to hear Betty say:  “Everyone likes to point out how much money tourism, the wine industry, agriculture and ranching bring into the county. But pension spending is the highest revenue generator in the county. Fifty-four million dollars comes from retiree pensions.

dsc08558-copyOne question applicable to rural Calaveras and surrounding counties, is how can the state engage in helping people who have 20 dead beetle infested trees on their property and cannot afford 20 thousand dollars to have them removed? Her answer was a state tax credit to mitigate that unusual cost. She described a couple of ways it could be handled dependent upon situation or means.

dsc08578-copyBetty Yee was born and raised in San Franciso. Her parents were immigrants and raised 6 children. They struggled to provide for and educate their children. Betty, by the way, is the second highest ranking elected official to come to Murphys, since 1830 when Ulysses S. Grant came as President of the United States.  Interestingly, she ranks higher than the Governor of the State, or any senator or representative.

dsc08553-copyI thought that Betty Yee’s  rank was an interesting observation, especially since I barely knew what the “controller” did.  I had to look it up.  (Kimberly Pratt-above.)

dsc08567-copyIt is never too late to learn and I learned a lot from Betty Yee’s visit. And, I’m inspired to become a bit more active in my community. As everyone knows, my major role in life seems to be “activist”. So, I’d best act like it.

dsc08571-copyI love taking pictures of people, too.  (Rick Mines.)

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VETERANS DAY

According to my calendar, today is actually Veterans Day, though yesterday was celebrated as such, with many companies giving the day off from work. A nice respite for veterans and those who honor them with public accolades, speeches and parades. We all have friends or relatives who are veterans and these days its easier to use electronic media to wish them well and thank them for their service. But, it would be nice to take an active part in protecting them from predatory lenders. This advice comes from Public Citizen.

We honor the sacrifices made by servicemen and servicewomen, but being ripped off by predatory lenders — many of whom prey specifically on residents of military bases — should NOT be among our veterans’ sacrifices.

The Department of Defense has the authority to rein in the unpatriotic predators who gouge service members.

Service members are targeted by “payday” lenders because military rules require them to maintain good finances, but the realities of service — such as sudden relocations to different parts of the country — often result in unanticipated expenses.

Meanwhile, forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of the terms for these high-interest (as in 500 percent) loans mean that our troops are denied their right to a day in court.
The Military Lending Act is supposed to protect service members from banking abuses. The sad truth is that industry lobbyists poked loopholes in the 2007 law that are big enough to drive an armored personnel carrier through.

Now, the DoD is working to close these loopholes — and is accepting comments from the public for a limited amount of time.

Add your name to Public Citizen’s comment urging the Department of Defense to stop predatory lenders who prey on our armed forces. Click here: http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12622

Thank you,

Rick Claypool
Public Citizen’s Online Action Team
action@citizen.org

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