Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Food-Backed Local Money

In Dave Smith, Mendo Island Transition on March 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm

From Jason Bradford
Willits Economic Localization

3/5/09 Ukiah, North California

As a kid did you ever fantasize about Monopoly game money becoming real? I know I did. Perhaps that’s why I left the printer shop the other day with a sense of bemusement. I had just designed and printed $6000 of money called Mendo Credits. I felt confident that people would accept it, and I also proudly considered that Ben Bernanke doesn’t make money as good as this.

Now before you call the Treasury Department to report me, listen to my story. It may sound funny, but the reality of money is deadly serious. This is perfectly legal and I want you to play copy cat…

Historically in the United States and elsewhere, local currencies are known to stabilize local economies when national currencies are troubled, such as bouts of hyper inflation or deflation and joblessness. This works because those accepting local money are also likely to seek out others who accept it too, creating a social dynamic that forms new, local economic associations. As these strengthen, the flow of local money picks up and work can get done even in the face of economic disaster outside the community. Because they can only be spent locally, profits on economic transactions done with a local currency remain in the community and spur more local investment. Local governments, regional business associations, community banks, and worker cooperatives are examples of the kinds of institutions who tend to successfully issue local currency. They have the social capital to be broadly accepted, and the capacity to manage the task of issuing and redeeming money…

Mendo Credits are backed by a tangible asset. In other words, Mendo Credits are a “reserve currency” as opposed to a “fiat currency” like Federal Reserve dollars. Many people are familiar with money backed by gold, which was once the case with U.S. dollars, but Mendo Credits are backed by reserves of stored food. Our reserve currency has a number of desirable properties at this time in history…

Keep reading Food-Backed Local Money at The Oil Drum

See also Scenario 2020: The Future of Food in Mendocino County

and Introducing Mendo Time Bank

and Mendo Moola

Hat tip Linda Gray and Annie Esposito

Bank Nationalization Debate is Farcical

In Guest Posts on March 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

From Kirt Hamburg

3/5/09 Ukiah, North California

For some time, we have been reading about the pros and cons of nationalizing the banking system in the United States.  There are some out there who are staunch opponents of any sort of nationalization, equating it with socialism. Others believe nationalizing the system today is the only real way to address the current morass by taking the pain and starting a real process of recovery rather than wading in the muck for years or even decades to come.  Many other points of view lie somewhere in between.

The American people have been lead astray on this topic.  Our banking system has been in the midst of nationalization since last October when a frantic Wall Street, led by then-Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chief Hank Paulson, strong-armed Congress into believing the sky would fall unless the government gave $700 billion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, no strings attached, in order to “save the failed credit markets.”

We all know that did not work. The plan laid out by Paulson to buy toxic assets in order to shore up the liabilities side of the balance sheet was never implemented. After all, if a company is failing, it needs to sell its good assets to raise capital.  It cannot sell its junk and expect to raise much cash.  So in the end, it was determined by the brain trust in DC to simply give these failing institutions boatloads of money in hopes they would commence lending.

It should have come as no surprise that these institutions used our money to pay out huge dividends, give bonuses to the same executives who created the mess, and buy out smaller banks–even by utilizing a tax loophole created by TARP that enriched banks for buying out competitors!  This was the case, for example, in the buyout of Capital Commerce Bank by PNC Financial.

Keep reading→

Gardening In The Nude (or New Use For Rhubarb)

In Dave Smith on March 3, 2009 at 11:08 pm

From Gene Logsdon

One of the greatest mysteries of life for me is society’s ambivalence about the naked human body. People line up by the hundreds every day to get a look at Michelangelo’s anatomically-correct statue of David. But if a real live David were to stand naked beside that statue, the sex police would haul him away, even in Italy where nude statues are as common as pizza.

I once did a lot of “research” into the subject of outdoor nudity. Research for a writer means I “asked around.” What gives here, anyway?

You’d be amazed. Actually most of you would not be amazed because what I found out was that most people, given their druthers, would not wear clothes in their back yards or even front yards, if they could get away with it, at least not when the weather is nice. People I asked drew the line only at going beyond the home environment unclothed or where the environment inclined excessively to poison ivy and mosquitoes. One person put it this way: “If everyone took their clothes off while they mowed the lawn, in twenty minutes no one would take a second look. If the nude person was as ugly as I am, no one would take a first look.”

I have a hunch that there are plenty of backyard swimming pools whose waters reflect bare backsides more than they do swimsuits. For sure what passes for a swimsuit in many of them would make a typical thong look kind of klutzy. But people also expressed a yen, if they trusted that I was not going to name names, for gardening in the nude. In fact the practice has been sanctified into folk tradition, at least in the Ozarks. According to folklorist Vance Randolph, writing in the 1930s and 40s, the spring planting ritual in the hills involved a sort of celebratory session of love making on the soft, loamy, newly-planted soil to insure a good crop. Some fifty years later, I asked an Ozarkian if people still did that. “Wellllll” (long pause). “Welllll” (another long pause). “Yes.” Did Ozarkians believe that such activity would enhance crop production? He smiled. “Oh, they just use that for an excuse.”

Keep reading Gardening In The Nude at OrganicToBe

How do you destroy the middle class?

In Dave Smith on March 3, 2009 at 11:04 pm

From Daily Kos


The Two Documents Everyone Should Read to Better Understand the Financial Crisis

Key quote:

* the FBI accurately described mortgage fraud as “epidemic”
* nonprime lenders are overwhelmingly responsible for the epidemic
* the fraud was so endemic that it would have been easy to spot if anyone looked
* the lenders, the banks that created nonprime derivatives, the rating agencies, and the buyers all operated on a “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy
* willful blindness was essential to originate, sell, pool and resell the loans
* willful blindness was the pretext for not posting loss reserves
* both forms of blindness made high (fictional) profits certain when the bubble was expanding rapidly and massive (real) losses certain when it collapsed
* the worse the nonprime loan quality the higher the fees and interest rates, and the faster the growth in nonprime lending and pooling the greater the immediate fictional profits and (eventual) real losses
* the greater the destruction of wealth, the greater the (fictional) profits, bonuses, and stock appreciation
* many of the big banks are deeply insolvent due to severe credit losses
* those big banks and Treasury don’t know how insolvent they are because they didn’t even have the loan files
* a “stress test” can’t remedy the banks’ problem — they do not have the loan files

Keep reading The Two Documents… at Huffington Post

Rethinking Energy: conservation, curtailment, efficiency and appropriate technology

In Dave Smith on March 3, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Key quote: the “Lean Energy Sequence”

  1. Energy conservation: Develop all the ways you can think of to use energy more efficiently. Most energy in the United Kingdom and Ireland is used for heating, lighting, and the other energy-based services of buildings, so some simple changes such as turning the heating down can make significant savings. Aim to get the energy services you use now for less than half the energy you use now.
  2. Structural change: By changing structural aspects of your life- for example, by taking a job you can cycle to, or working part time so you can spend more time growing your own food- it may be possible to aim for ultimately an 80 percent reduction in total energy consumption. In this era of cheap energy, transport is the rule; doing things locally is the exception. When the energy famine comes, it will be the other way round. Better conservation can help to open the way to structural change; structural change can open the way to better conservation.
  3. Renewables. Living off the grid with domestic wind or solar systems will only be for the very few, partly because of cost and partly because few sites are suitable. Passive solar water and space heating will however be applicable to some extent in most places; but renewable energy production for the most part needs to be on a community or municipal scale, and its source will depend on the area.
  4. Institutional framework. If we are going to reduce and redesign our energy needs, and achieve the massive changes needed by the proximity principle, we will need a system in which we can all work to a common purpose. This will eventually mean some system of rationing- one such proposal is David Fleming’s Tradable Energy Quotas.

Keep reading Powerdown Tool Kit: Rethinking Energy at Zone5
Images: GreenRoofs.com
Hat tip Energy Bulletin

The art of listening

In Dave Smith on March 2, 2009 at 10:24 pm

By Brenda Ueland
October 24, 1891 – March 5, 1985

It is through this creative process that we at once love and are loved

I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love. And least of all – which is so important, too – to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. Think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays.

This is the reason: When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weakens up and dies. Well, that is the principle of it. It makes people happy and free when they are listened to. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society (because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting), of comforting people, of doing them good.

Who are the people, for example, to whom you go for advice? Not to the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do, but to the listeners; that is, the kindest, least censorious, least bossy people you know. It is because by pouring out your problem to them, you then know what to do about it yourself.

When we listen to people there is an alternating current that recharges us so we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.

Now, there are brilliant people who cannot listen much. They have no ingoing wires on their apparatus. They are entertaining, but exhausting, too.

I think it is because these lecturers, these brilliant performers, by not giving us a chance to talk, do not let this little creative fountain inside us begin to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected laughter and wisdom. That is why, when someone has listened to you, you go home rested and lighthearted.

When people listen, creative waters flow

Now this little creative fountain is in us all. It is the spirit, or the intelligence, or the imagination – whatever you want to call it. If you are very tired, strained, have no solitude, run too many errands, talk to too many people, drink too many cocktails, this little fountain is muddied over and covered with a lot of debris. The result is you stop living from the center, the creative fountain, and you live from the periphery, from externals. That is, you go along on mere willpower without imagination. It is when people really listen to us, with quiet, fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way. I discovered all this about three years ago, and truly it made a revolutionary change in my life. Before that, when I went to a party, I would think anxiously: “Now try hard. Be lively. Say bright things. Talk. Don’t let down.” And when tired, I would have to drink a lot of coffee to keep this up.

Now before going to a party, I just tell myself to listen with affection to anyone who talks to me, to be in their shoes when they talk; to try to know them without my mind pressing against theirs, or arguing, or changing the subject.

Sometimes, of course, I cannot listen as well as others. But when I have this listening power, people crowd around and their heads keep turning to me as though irresistibly pulled. By listening I have started up their creative fountain. I do them good.

Now why does it do them good? I have a kind of mystical notion about this. I think it is only by expressing all that is inside that purer and purer streams come. It is so in writing. You are taught in school to put down on paper only the bright things. Wrong. Pour out the dull things on paper too – you can tear them up afterward – for only then do the bright ones come. If you hold back the dull things, you are certain to hold back what is clear and beautiful and true and lively.

Keep reading→

Schizoid culture and a course for treatment

In Guest Posts on March 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

From Sean Ré
Mendocino County
sean@bandcamp.org

3/2/09 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ J. Krishnamurti

Denial and excess

My step-father is baffled by my current interests. He has, as of late, become interested in alternative energy. He, like many others, thinks that there is a singular technology that can save us all. In a previous career, I was an engineer, and he wonders why I don’t use those skills to pursue something that will serve humanity. Humanity has all the solutions it needs to solve its problems, I tell him; what it lacks is the will to exercise them. My stepfather, his body ravaged by the excess of his life and denial of his disease, diabetes, has lost half of his left foot, and most of the toes on his other. He is on dialysis three days a week. He tells me almost every time I’m on the phone with him about some new substance he has discovered that will restore his health, that will turn back part of the excess of his life. Excesses that he indulged in with denial. A denial that raged, even as he watched his siblings destroyed by the disease. In him I see an allegory of our whole modern way of being.

Charlatans and false solutions

I have these days concerned myself with issues of the exercise of will. I listen to community radio every weekday morning, and much of what I hear is denial, speculation, opinion, and false hope… dancing around the gorilla in the room. Fill the void with noise, but rarely utter the truths of our lives. We work so hard to fill our lives, and yet a feeling of emptiness seems to prevail. We feed the guard dogs of our way of life with our own flesh. A truth is before us but remains unfocused in our vision; it’s a dream we are told, it can never happen here. Stay the course, these things are just cyclical: things will return to normal soon. But what is normal? We refuse to look to the lives of others who show us a better way, as we cling to the lies that serve to make only a few prosper… for a while. Normal has come to mean common, as opposed to a state of well being: sustainable homeostasis. Sometimes I hear credible solutions to our problems, but I fear they won’t be realized. As with any addiction, delusional thinking prevails. But the truth lies within us if we can remove the barriers that have blinded us to our own truths.

Barriers: Signs, symptoms, and false diagnosis

In my profession the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) is the psychiatric profession’s attempt to legitimize themselves as a player in the scope of medical science. It is the fundamental tool at the core of the counseling profession. The DSM-IV (brought to you by similar minds that brought you the DSM-III, which listed homosexuality as a mental illness) presents clusters of symptoms which represent behaviors that lie outside the norms of our current culture. Symptom is the key word here. Webster defines a symptom as, “a phenomenon experienced by an individual as a departure from normal function, sensation, or appearance, generally indicating disease or disorder.” A sign is defined as “a bodily manifestation indicating the presence of a disease or malfunction.” The difference being, one is perceptual and the other is empirical. For example, if you go to a doctor and complain of pain in your arm, that is a symptom. If she takes an x-ray and observes a fracture, that is a sign. Imagine you went to your doctor and complained of leg pain, whereupon she snapped to a diagnosis (without the x-ray) and said, “your leg is broken” and then laid out a course of treatment saying, “and you’ll have to wear a cast for eight weeks.” You would look at her sideways and hop out of her office as fast as you could, as this would amount to malpractice. She made a diagnosis with only a symptom, and no signs, and then suggested a course of treatment. To understand this is to begin to wrap your head around the common standard of practice in the mental health profession: treatment (often medication) for a diagnosis made on symptoms alone. The actual causes (observed by signs) that can make the symptoms manifest are many. For example, the symptoms we associate with ADD can be caused by trauma, neglect, in-utero drug exposure, allergies, poor diet and the immediate environment just to name a few. I suspect there is not a child out there who is suffering from a deficiency of Ritalin. Yet that is a standard “treatment” given for this “disorder.” Something is a disorder if it impairs the individual from some area of life functioning: relationships, work/school, and self-care. Let’s look at two common mental “disorders” common in modern society.

Keep reading→

A Look into the Future

In Around the web on March 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm

From Janie Sheppard

3/2/09 Ukiah, North California

Let’s just imagine, for a few minutes, that marijuana is legal. There are signs that such legalization is in the offing: The new Attorney General, Eric Holder, has said it will henceforth be the policy of the DEA not to raid California medical marijuana dispensaries. There are other signs as well.

California would become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use under a bill introduced February 23rd  by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.  Numerous commentators have suggested that taxing marijuana sales, a Thirteen Billion Dollar industry in California alone, would be a painless way to fill the state’s coffers. Taxation, long ignored as a source of revenue for our beleaguered state, extends to marijuana sales. Imagine, for now, that is the reality.

With legalization, comes regulation. Only sustainably grown marijuana, meeting organic standards, is legal. Artificial fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, diesel generators, their spills and contamination, along with vicious guard dogs, are relics of the past.

Sales are made only to adults, with strict punishments meted out to anyone caught selling to underage purchasers. This is how sales of alcohol and tobacco are controlled today; such a scheme easily could be adapted for marijuana sales.

Mendocino County is known for strains of marijuana that treat specific maladies, many of them providing medicinal benefits without the high. Purchasing these strains is no longer illegal. Imagine patients receiving treatment without being forced into bankruptcy by prescriptions that make the out-of-county pharmaceutical companies rich. Recall too that the defendant in the Kelly case, presently before the California Supreme Court, grew 7 marijuana plants (one over the limit under S.B. 420) to treat pain, something he could not afford to do by purchasing prescription pharmaceuticals.

Recreational users, for the most part, become responsible, just as most wine drinkers are today. Wine drinking drivers know they stand a healthy chance of being pulled over and arrested if they have exceeded the allowable blood alcohol limit. Well publicized campaigns against driving drunk provide further deterrence and the same could work for marijuana.

The Sheriff deploys deputies to help the federal government clean up trespass on federal lands where illegal grows produce no tax revenue, only environmental damage. Illegal grows decrease rapidly because there are more available enforcement personnel. Wildlife returns to take advantage of the quietude and the water that is no longer siphoned from the streams for irrigating. Consider that last season there were 50 trespass grows on Cow Mountain alone, with only one BLM enforcement agent for the entire Ukiah district. Consequently, there was no enforcement and only minimal cleanup.

The Sheriff can deploy deputies to help the feds because it got its act together early. Seeing legalization on the horizon, the Sheriff and his deputies brainstormed priorities. They figured out that the serious problems (not per se breaking the law) came from large-scale growers using diesel powered generators to run the lights and fans required for indoor grows. Also causing big problems were the out-of-county residents who hired locals to tend marijuana gardens here, there, and everywhere. And, of course, the gun-toting, pit bull owning outlaws. The Sheriff realized that if he concentrated his efforts on the serious problems, he could win support of county residents. He also realized that shutting down local, small-scale growers hurt the local economy. He quit doing that.

Paul Krugman, noted economist and New York Times op-ed columnist won the Nobel Prize last year for his ideas about international trade. Implied in those ideas was the notion that production (e.g., of marijuana) becomes concentrated in areas where expertise exists. Here, where medical marijuana expertise exists in abundance, we should acknowledge it by promoting the various Mendocino marijuana-based remedies. This is our opportunity. We need to take advantage of it.
~~

Big Box of Trouble: Dealing with the coming plague of empty superstores

In Dave Smith on March 2, 2009 at 9:49 am

[Lord knows we already have too many Big Boxes here that will be going belly-up. Let's stop the Masonite Big Box of Job Loss project in its tracks, so we don't have to deal with even more of these out-of-human-scale monstrosities later. -DS]

by Jebediah Reed
The Infrastrucurist

When Circuit City announced last month that it was going out of business, everyone’s concern was naturally with the 34,000 employees that got laid off. Less noted has been the fate of the chain’s 1,500 big box stores scattered across the U.S. and Canada. The company, whose locations average about 25,000 square feet, was an anchor tenant in many malls and shopping centers. With numerous other big retailers teetering, not only are the prospects for filling Circuit City’s spaces gloomy, there will likely be a rash of follow-on closings among neighboring stores. And many analysts think the national retail shakeout is still in its early stages.

The problem of retail vacancies on this scale is so new that it hasn’t really been studied yet. Perhaps the only authority on the subject of empty big box stores is Oberlin College professor and artist Julia Christensen. She has spent the last seven years traveling around the country seeking out and documenting cases of communities reclaiming abandoned big boxes and putting them to a socially productive use–for instance, as museums, libraries, rec centers, and schools. She wrote about it all in her recently published book Big Box Reuse (MIT Press). A few days ago, we got her thoughts on how towns and cities can make beneficial use of these vacant structures and turn a hole in the local fabric into a community asset…

You describe big box stores as unsustainable. In what way particularly?
The main thing is that they are built on a car-centric structure. So you can’t really get to these buildings without cars. Then there’s the acres and acres of impermeable parking lots, land that we’re just paving over…

Keep reading Big Box of Trouble at the Infrastucturist
Hat tip Energy Bulletin
~~

Top financier recommends marrying a farmer

In Dave Smith on March 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm

But I really think agriculture is going to be the best place to be. Agriculture’s been a horrible business for 30 years. For decades the money shufflers, the paper shufflers, have been the captains of the universe. That is now changing. The people who produce real things [will be on top]. You’re going to see stockbrokers driving taxis. The smart ones will learn to drive tractors, because they’ll be working for the farmers. It’s going to be the 29-year-old farmers who have the Lamborghinis. So you should find yourself a nice farmer and hook up with him or her, because that’s where the money’s going to be in the next couple of decades.

Keep reading Jim Rogers Doesn’t Mince Words

See also Local Food: success is 100% possible
Hat tip Energy Bulletin

..and A Perfect Pear at NYT
Hat tip Pinky Kushner


How The Economy Was Lost
Doomed by the myths of Free Trade
by Paul Craig Roberts

Key quote: I have read endless tributes to Wal-Mart from “libertarian economists,” who sing Wal-Mart’s praises for bringing low price goods, 70 per cent of which are made in China, to the American consumer. What these “economists” do not factor into their analysis is the diminution of American family incomes and government tax base from the loss of the goods producing jobs to China. Ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled by offshoring, while California issues IOUs to pay its bills. The shift of production offshore reduces US GDP. When the goods and services are brought back to America to be sold, they increase the trade deficit. As the trade deficit is financed by foreigners acquiring ownership of US assets, this means that profits, dividends, capital gains, interest, rents, and tolls leave American pockets for foreign ones.

Keep reading How The Economy Was Lost

Hat tip to Méca Wawona
~~
Image Credit: Farmer John (The Real Dirt…), Angelic Organics, Caledonia, Illinois


What Next?
Jim Kunstler

The last desperate act of the banking system in the face of Peak Oil’s no-more-growth equation was to engineer species of tradable securities that could produce wealth out of thin air rather than productive activity. This was the alphabet soup of algorithm-derived frauds with vague and confounding names such as credit default swaps (CDSs), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), structured investment vehicles (SIVs), and, of course, the basic filler, mortgage backed securities. The banking system is now choking to death on these delicacies…

The task of government right now is not to prop up doomed systems at their current scales of failure, but to prepare the public to rebuild our systems at smaller scales…

If the US government is going to try to make remedial policy for anything, it better start with agriculture, to promote local, smaller-scaled farming using methods that are much less dependent on oil byproducts and capital injections…

Keep reading What Next?

USDA toughens oversight of organic fertilizer

In Around the web on March 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm


From Michael Laybourn

Here’s some good news, folks:

USDA Toughens Oversight of Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizers must undergo testing

By Don Schrack , The Packer, February 25, 2009
On the heels of disciplinary action by the California Department of Food and Agriculture against one manufacturer and a federal probe into yet another company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving to stiffen requirements for suppliers of organic fertilizers.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the National Organic Program, announced Feb. 20 that it will require third party reviewers to implement detailed audit and inspection protocols for all high nitrogen-content liquid organic fertilizers effective Oct. 1.

California Certified Organic Farmers, Santa Cruz, Calif., which certifies the state’s organic growers, immediately applauded the federal agency’s action in a news release.

Reports surfaced in late December that the state ordered in January 2007 California Liquid Fertilizer, Gonzales, Calif., to halt distribution of its fertilizer products. On January 22, federal agents raided Port Organic Products Ltd., Buttonwillow, Calif. The following day, California Certified Organic Farmers directed the state’s certified organic grower-shippers to halt the use of the company’s products. More than a week before the Port Organic Products raid, the organization established its own liquid fertilizer approval policy. Since then, it has implemented a liquid fertilizer sampling initiative and members of the certifying group’s staff met with legislative leaders, testified at a Sacramento legislative hearing and traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the issue with National Organics Program officials.

“It’s been a busy two months, but we are very pleased with the outcome and the NOP decision to issue this new notice in a time-sensitive manner,” said Peggy Miars, executive director of the organization, in the news release.

The organization’s policies on organic liquid fertilizer may be found at http://www.ccof.org.

Maybe this is change…
~~
Image Credit: GrowthAg, Wee Waa, Austrailia

Economic Recovery Package will not Stimulate Ukiah

In Dave Smith on March 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm

From Annie Esposito

3/1/09 Ukiah, Northern California

Senator Diane Feinstein’s San Francisco Office Director, Russell Lowe, spoke to the business community in Ukiah Friday. The West Company brought Lowe to Fort Bragg and Ukiah to present categories of funding in the Economic Recovery Package. The Senator noted that the package isn’t perfect, but it’s the one that can pass. And it will bring substantial revenue to California, creating as many as 396,000 jobs here.

As you can imagine, there were all kinds of questions and comments for Lowe to take to the Senator. But there was a major message to Feinstein from our rural area – a recurring theme. At least five people raised the issue – in five separate ways – that none of that money will make it here.

Ukiah City Manager Jane Chambers said that she does not have the staff it would take to go through the myriad burdensome requirements to even be able to apply for that money. The larger cities have that kind of personnel power built in. Second District Supervisor John McCowen said the same for the County. He indicated that Mendocino County does not have the extra personnel to focus on the (unnecessarily) complicated hoops to jump through. Madeline Holtkamp, who has worked on economic development issues locally for years, noted that for a lot of big population areas, there are already templates for their areas in place that they can plug in – with personnel familiar with those arcane processes and, of course, resources to do it. Jesse Burnett, Executive Director of the Northern California Tribal Economic Development Consortium, said the same for the tribes. He noted that it is a very small percentage of tribes that are rich from casino profits. Most tribes are struggling – and they certainly don’t have trained, surplus employees to bring in the federal money. A representative from the MendoLake Credit Union made the same point from where he sits. The big banks who were instrumental in the economic melt-down get bailout money. Our local credit union pumps money right into the local economy. For example, MendoLake Credit Union makes more car loans for people here than any of the “chain” banks. This enables people to get to work and buoys local car dealerships. But the Credit Union will not qualify for any of the federal help because of its structure as a member organization rather than a big private bank.

Feinstein aide Russell Lowe said that people can contact him at One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104 – letters are best, because e-mails are unverifiable.  People planning to visit Washington DC should contact him at 415-393-0707.  Feinstein holds a breakfast meeting with constituents Wednesday mornings before work while Congress is in session.  It’s on a first come first serve basis.


[Update -DS]

“Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone’s garage, somebody’s kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That’s where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.” ~Syndicated Columnist Peggy Noonan

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