Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Raising The Minimum Wage

Chris Rock said it best with this comment that if you’re being paid minimum wage: “your employer is basically saying HEY, if I could pay you less, I would, …but the law won’t let me!”

The point is that businesses pay low wages in order to maintain higher profits.   

As the founding father of free market economics Adam Smith explained  back in the eighteenth century, the ‘Butcher, the Brewer, and the Baker’  set up shop not out of some benevolent desire to put food on our table  [or to create jobs], but in order to make a profit.  

So the short-term impact of raising the minimum wage (for companies with over 25 employees) will be a slight reduction in the profit margin of business owners and corporate shareholders.

As to the myth that this modest raise in the wages of our lowest paid workers will lead to a significant loss of jobs, it’s simply not true: A review of 64 studies on minimum wage increases found no discernible effect on employment. Additionally, more than 600 economists,  seven of them Nobel Prize winners in economics, have signed onto a letter in support of raising the minimum wage.

As to the myth that it will lead to a significant increase in the cost of goods or services to the consumer, I would remind you what most of  us were taught in the elementary school, that prices are based on supply and demand, the most fundamental concept of economics and the backbone of our market economy.  If business owners could charge more, they’d be doing it now.

In Eureka, the largest number of employees earning minimum wage work for multi-national corporations including McDonald’s, Walmart and Target. The prices at these large chain stores are generally set at corporate headquarters and not store to store and their profits are considerable and they can in fact afford to raise their wages without raising prices or laying off workers.  

McD’s for examples makes over $5 billion in profit from revenue of over $27 billion per year and their CEO was paid $13 million dollars (that works out to over $9,000 an hour) last year.

And before you help these liars dry any more of their crocodile tears over their threatened “cost” to us the consumer of raising the minimum wage, you might want to consider the cost to us, the taxpayer, of NOT raising the minimum wage.

You see us taxpayers subsidize these corporations in the form of public assistance.In fact McDonald’s used to run what they called “The McResource phone line” where they advised their employees on how to apply for food stamps.  Workers with increased earnings would pay more in taxes and receive less in government benefits, that you and I pay for, so we would no longer be subsidizing their employers.

And as the City of Eureka relies on sales tax and not income tax for the bulk of its revenue, when you raise the pay of low income workers, 100% of that money gets spent, versus when you give it to shareholders and well-off business owners, who even if they live in town are not likely to increase their spending. 

As an example, last year McDonald’s spent the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company on “share repurchases” and dividends. That was $6 billion in one year spent to profit shareholders, while employees are paid minimum wage, which at its current level has a purchasing power of 20 percent less than it did in 1968!

Look, whenever profits are threatened, business always scream “JOBS.” If you’re old enough, you may remember that requiring seat belts in cars were going to cost us jobs!  Any increase in the cost of doing business is always fought with the myth that it will cost jobs, but myths are just that, and the truth is employers will hire as many workers as they need to meet the demand of the marketplace. No more and no fewer.

Then of course there is the moral argument, that if a man or woman does an honest day’s work, they deserve an honest day’s pay, and that would be a wage one could live on.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sunny Brae Park clean up June 28th 11:am - 6:pm

 Please come out to Virginia Way between Beverly Dr and Charles Ave to pitch in!
June 28th  11:am to 6:pm  BBQ at 4:pm
Contact Susan Ornelas for more info or to RSVP: sornelas@cityofarcata.org

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rob Arkley's victory in Humboldt County

How Arkley Came to Run Humboldt County

For over a decade Rob Arkley had tried to win control of Humboldt County politics.  He has funded candidates and of course his wife ran for office.  He formed lobbying groups like Humboldt Sunshine and most notably, HELP (Humboldt Economic & Land Plan), which intended to steer the future of land planning and of course that starts with the General Plan.

Well apparently the voters of Humboldt County didn't want the local billionaire deciding the future of the community for them and they pretty much voted against all the candidates Mr. Arkley put forward, including his wife Cherie, ...though she only lost her bid for mayor by 42 votes.

What happen next was this group that ostensibly had no connections to Rob Arkley and was run by a guy with a pony tail and a beard (Lee Ulansey), called HumCPR sprang up on the heels of the code enforcement debacle and with their financial backing the "gang of four" was swept into office.

These Supervisors then proceeded to appoint commissioners to the Planning Commission.  Well low and behold but we find out in the Northcoast Journal article that the majority of these newly appointed commissioners list membership in HELP on their resumes!?   Is it possible that if Rob had just grown a beard and a pony tail, that he could have done this his own?  That's unlikely, but in the end and through the unholy alliance that HumCPR has cast between developers and so called "back-to-the-landers", they were able to do what Rob Arkley was never able to do on his own, and was to put his lobbyist in control of Humboldt County.

The voters of Humboldt will get one more chance to change that dynamic on Tuesday. We'll see what they do.

Let me remind you that past elections in Humboldt County have been decided by just a handful of votes. Peter LaValle beat Cherie Arkely for mayor by 42 votes and lost four years later to Virginia Bass by just 65 votes , Jeff Leonard won an election with just 28 votes. Sundberg beat Cleary by 154 votes.  So know that in Humboldt County, your vote does count!
Also, in Humboldt County, they'll confirm that count is accurate: www.wired.com/2008/12/unique-transpar/


Time For A Change

Richard Marks was right when he said that even Virginia's critics agree that she's a nice person.  I know that I've always found her to be very nice.  I think Chris Kerrigan is pretty nice himself, and I'd wager that Richard Marks thinks the same.

What I and many others have been critical of Virginia Bass for is her votes, and her appointments.  I disagree with her position on key issues and that's what I've criticized her for, never for not being nice nor would I ever question her character as a person.  What I take issue with is her politics.

Interestingly many of Bass' supporters seem to want to attack Chris' character and I can only assume that's because they don't feel they'll get much traction attacking his positions, which are mostly popular in Humboldt County over all, and particularly in the 4th District.

This past week I've read letters to the editor about Kerrigan's vision for the future of Humboldt County.  About his commitment to 21st Century jobs, about maintaining our open space and parks and about creating trails.  His belief that when you have safe streets and neighborhoods talented people are drawn to an area, which leads to investment and job growth. About how Kerrigan has supported responsible development in areas that have infrastructure.  His commitment to providing affordable housing as the first step in addressing homelessness.  Kerrigan supports development in the town centers rather than conversion of our resource lands, which creates sprawl and a higher tax burden on the rest of us.  He supports the Fair Wage Act to give Eureka's lowest paid workers a living wage and he will support a county-wide version of this common sense law.  

I've also read letters outlining Chris Kerrigan's many accomplishments, actions and efforts during his eight years on the Eureka City Council. From the street calming program that led to the planting of trees throughout Eureka. Chris also brought forward a marriage equality resolution and an ordinance to extend the library’s hours, a big box ordinance that would have required a conditional use permit before any store over 10,000 square feet was opened in Eureka (this would have applied to the WalMart that just went in at the mall), about fighting to protect funding for seniors, about protecting the rights of minorities and about his efforts at historic preservation such as with the Annie B. Ryan house (that developers intended to demolish).  A major focus of his tenure was city beautification which he continues today as a Keep Eureka Beautiful board member.
You hear a lot about the fact that Chris Kerrigan was only 20 years old when he first ran for City Council.  He spent the next eight years of his life working on behalf of this community. The fact is that community is what Chris is all about.  After his two terms on the council were up, he went back to university to complete his education.  Now he's chosen to stay here in Humboldt and is offering to stay in public service rather than pursue a more lucrative career out of town.  I hear a lot of talk about wanting to keep our young people here in Humboldt and here's a great example of a young person who wants to stay!  His youthful energy will bring a lot of what's needed to the Board of Supervisor; most of all it will bring change from the status quo.  When Kerrigan served on the city council he was often in the minority yet he was never afraid to stand up, even when he stood alone, to fight for what was right and in the end he actually won a lot of those battles. Even when he didn't get the more conservative members to reverse their votes he did often get them to find a compromise position, one that more accurately reflected the diverse interests of our community.  We could use that voice on the Board of Supervisors.   We could use some balance and we could use some new ideas.  We've tried it this way, now let's try something different.  Let's try Chris Kerrigan for Supervisor.
It's time for a change. 


June 3, 2014 Voter Guide

JUNE 3RD 2014 VOTER GUIDE by Richard Salzman

Governor: Jerry Brown (or Peace and Freedom party candidate Cindy Sheehan)
Lt Governor: Gavin Newsom
Sec of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: John Perez
Insur. Commissioner: Dave Jones
Treasurer: John Chiang
Attorney Gen: Kamala Harris
Board of Eq: Fiona Ma
Congress: Andy Caffrey  (Huffman is great and will win by a landslide so I'm voting for Andy who lives here in Humboldt County)
State Senate: Mike McGuire
Assembly: Jim Wood
Sup of Pub Instr: Tom Torlarkson
District Attorney: Elan Firpo
Prop 41:  YES
Prop 42: YES

4th Dist Supervisor (Eureka area): Chris Kerrigan
5th Dist Supervisor (Mckinleyville north): Sharon Latour

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Least We Forget, ...the defeated recall attempt of '04

Voters Reject Attempt to Recall North Coast D.A.

A timber company bankrolled the effort to remove the Humboldt County official.

March 03, 2004 . Kenneth R. Weiss . L.A. Times

Humboldt County voters rallied behind their district attorney Tuesday, rejecting a campaign bankrolled by Pacific Lumber Co. to recall the prosecutor who had accused the powerful timber company of fraud.

With all precincts reporting, voters decided to retain Dist. Atty. Paul Gallegos, 61% to 39%, despite an intensive campaign of radio, television and direct mail advertisements that portrayed Gallegos as soft on crime and a friend of illegal tree-sitters, rapists and pot growers.

"It's a triumph of the people over the influence of money and lies in politics," said a jubilant Gallegos, 41, a former Southern Californian who moved to Eureka a decade ago. "This recall election wasn't about me, it's about a corporation trying to control politics here in Humboldt County."

"This is about a defendant getting rid of the prosecutor," he said. "If this was the will of the people, they [Pacific Lumber] wouldn't have had to spend a quarter of a million dollars to get this on the ballot and convince people I was no good."

The recall election, the most expensive race of any kind in Humboldt County history, generated an unusually high turnout on a day when voters elsewhere in the state largely stayed home.

The race emerged as a test of the century-old political dominance of timber interests in a county of 130,000 people that has seen a sharp drop in logging jobs and a surge in environmentally concerned newcomers who work in the tourism and service industries.

The debate over Gallegos cleaved the county along familiar battle lines in the North Coast timber wars: Whether redwoods should be considered a draw for tourists and a subject of poetry or a source of lucrative lumber and abundant jobs. Passions flared to the bitter end, with allegations of improper electioneering.

Richard Salzman, Gallegos' campaign manager, joined volunteers on a busy intersection to wave "No Recall" signs for the early morning commuters -- most of them in pickup trucks.

"We got many more thumbs up than we got middle fingers," he said. "For these guys who gave us the finger, it's not the way Paul [Gallegos] handled a particular case, it's that they fear that their job's at stake."

Last year, Pacific Lumber and its corporate parent, Maxxam Inc., based in Houston, paid $8 a signature to help fill out petitions needed to qualify the recall for the ballot.

Then the timber company and its contractors donated more than 80% of the money -- $266,000 disclosed so far -- to the campaign to persuade voters that Gallegos should be bounced from the job as the county's top prosecutor.

Pacific Lumber denied that its contributions had anything to do with the civil fraud case that Gallegos and his top assistant, Timothy O. Stoen, filed in March 2003, accusing the company of lying to state regulators during the 1999 Headwaters Forest deal. The deal capped a decade-long battle to save the state's remaining stands of giant redwoods not already protected in parks or preserves.

Prosecutors contend that the fraud has allowed Pacific Lumber to harvest about $40 million worth of trees each year on 211,000 acres that were supposed to be protected under logging restrictions as part of the deal, which cost taxpayers $480 million.

Company spokeswoman Erin Dunn said the firm joined the recall out of a duty to help protect public safety from a prosecutor with a "miserable" record.

Supporters of Gallegos raised $180,000 and put together teams of volunteers to counteract the ad campaign against him. They phoned thousands of supporters in places such as Arcata, a liberal college town, to urge them to the polls.

"We're doing a booming business," said Lindsey McWilliams, Humboldt County's election manager, who predicted a turnout of about 65%. The county issued about 18,000 absentee ballots, about 6,000 more than usual, and he fears it will take weeks to sort through the final 1,500 to 2,000 or so ballots which were smudged, adorned with write-in candidates, or turned in at polling places.

Although these ballots will not change the outcome of the recall election, McWilliams said, "It's going to take us a lot of time to clean this up."

How We Defeated a Corporate Recall in Humboldt County