Posts Tagged With: responsibility

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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RETURN OF THE RAMBLIN’ MAN.

Jim arrived at my house late in the day on April 22nd, only to find me embroiled in projects unfinished and little time to spend together, other than finally having dinner together. On Thursday, it was more of the same. He walked, did fix-ups on his Bronco and I didn’t even know he was gone. For now, that  is just the way it is.

Doug, came by to pick up a kitchen counter I had had built locally and went over paperwork and indoor paint choices and sku numbers for flooring I picked locally that he will  look over when he returns to Oregon in the same chain store.

I gave him a belated birthday present, a rug that I made him 30 years ago was damaged by his cat and needed repair. After six years, the same number of years Jim and I have traveled together, I finally fixed his rug.

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The job was much harder than I figured, cutting out old pieces without cutting into the lacing that holds the whole thing together and then adding new wool to old wool for a new border. Lumpy in places, but it will flatten with use.  Lacking  blue wool I used black and then went to a thrift store and found a beautiful blue wool skirt and was able to add some of the right color. It’s useable and in better shape now. I know he treasures that rug.

We don’t normally give birthday gifts. But, while rummaging through my stuff as I try to downsize the junk I’ve collected, I found a greeting card my sister gave Doug at his graduation from High School.

 

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It was the biggest greeting card I had  ever seen.  He  got it twice, once from her and now from me.

He is on the road to Oregon this morning as I write. I won’t need to make a return trip  until May 8.

In the meantime, the projects never end. I’m pleased to announce that Mark Miles got my well running and the drought will be much more manageable. It is impossible to know how much water is left in the well, thus I will  be using it judiciously.  Today, I have a helper coming to prune trees that should have been pruned in March. And, so it goes. The march of the responsible home owner. But, I do have wisdom at my finger-tips:

Life is short-Live it.

Love is rare-Grab it.

Anger is bad-Dump it.

Fear is awful-Face it.

Memories are sweet-Cherish them.

 

Bye, for now.

 

 

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FROM CHARLIE REECE

Today, I’m borrowing an essay from Charlie Reece, a retired journalist who wrote this as his last column for the Orlando Sentinel a couple of  years back. Its worth repeating.  And, it would be funny if it weren’t so true. Jim says I turn into a ranter when I’m away from the motor home. I don’t mean to, but the manure, as one reader called it, just hits you in the eye.
“Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House now? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees…

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!”

I think there is a song out there that has these words,  “…there,  I’ve said it again…”
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