Good News: The future is about conserving and higher-quality lives



From CHRIS MARTENSON
Post Carbon Institute (transcript, audio)
Address to the Commonwealth Club
Excerpts
Thanks to Mendo Conservers Club

Chris is a former Vice President of an international Fortune 300 company and used to be living in a large waterfront house until he came to the same realization that something isn’t quite right with society. About 5 years ago, Chris terminated his former high-paying, high-status position. He produced the hugely popular, on-line economics Crash Course. His children are now home-schooled, and the big house was sold in July of 2003 in preference for a small rental in rural western Massachusetts. The family grows a garden every year; preserves food, knows how to brew beer & wine, and raises chickens. Chris and Becca are making sure their family and community are becoming more self-sufficient and are sharing much of their wisdom with the online community on his website.

[...]  within our lifetime and that of our children, these disparate facts will coalesce into the greatest economic and physical challenge ever faced by our country, if not humanity.

It is also my opinion that if we do not develop a clear picture of the world we wish to create, the economic chaos and turbulence that we are now experiencing will prove to be the opening salvos in a long, disruptive period of adjustment.

It is my belief that we still have the time, resources, and know-how to create a brilliant future of our own design but that by putting our energies into sustaining the status quo we will default into a future shaped by disaster…

…we have everything we need right now to align our economics and resource use with reality. And we don’t need any new understandings to be developed. Brilliant people have been working at the margins for decades defining the issues and finding new ways of doing more with less.

What we lack is political will.

But there’s good news here too because more and more people are waking up all the time to the fact that humanity’s long experiment with “more” is about to end and an exciting new chapter is about to begin. Where people’s minds go, politics will eventually follow.

The really excellent news is that if we manage the transition elegantly we can actually improve things. A life with less pollution, more free time, meaningful jobs, more happiness, less stress and greater connection to each other as well as to nature are all within the realm of the possible. But only if we correctly diagnose the predicament and respond intelligently.

Our challenge then is not to find vast new resources to exploit, but to undertake the far more sophisticated and worthwhile task of using what we’ve got more wisely.
~

Q and A:

Q. How do we get off our addiction to oil?

A. We have to start telling ourselves different stories. When I go to Europe, I find that they lead a pretty comfortable lifestyle. And they exist on half the energy Americans do. We can do so much with conservation. That’s the first thing that should be out of our lips: not how do we get a better technology, not how do we find more oil really deep down, but how can we conserve? I believe we can cut our energy consumption in half which will buy us a lot of time which we can use for reorganizing ourselves. Electrified trains, reorganizing how we work and play so they are closer together, barge networks that move things on water, which is the most efficient way to do it. Get by with less.

The status quo is not going to be changed in Washington D.C. Women’s Rights, Labor Rights, the Environmental Movement, Civil Rights… all of these were brought kicking and screaming from the outside in.

We change our minds. We create a groundswell of what we want, and the politicians will follow. We will have to put enormous pressure on them… it will have to be an old social movement again.

I like what Sweden is doing. The 2020 plan. They’re going to be off imported oil by 2020 if they execute it. Efficiency standards, new building design codes, etc.

We also need a network of currencies. Currencies are commodities. We need other kinds of currencies that are not based on debt. Why does our government have to borrow money?

I purposefully cut my standard of living in half,  and I doubled my quality of life. Where we get our happiness and satisfaction is about the community we’ve got, the connections that we have… the ways we have fun is a lot less consumptive than a lot of families and we haven’t noticed it. We have absolutely high quality lives.

Complete presentation here
~~


Mendo Media


From MARK SCARAMELLA
The AVA

My uncle, the late 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, was an avid reader all his life. He described the county’s media during his tour in office in the 50s and 60s as “mostly duplicative and wishy-washy.” But Uncle Joe conceded that despite its pale timidity, the Mendo media were influential: he always said that without the endorsement of the Ukiah Daily Journal he would not have elected Fifth District Supervisor in 1952. “I ran four times before without the Journal’s endorsement,” he’d laugh. “And I lost every time.”

Joe Scaramella was subsequently re-elected four times and was responsible for a variety of major reforms of county government: an end to private budget meetings held in the offices of lumber company lawyers; a set of rules and procedures for the operations of the Board of Supervisors; establishment of a Civil Service Commission and orderly personnel management procedures; and an hour set aside before each meeting for a general hearing of the public. He implemented these steps in his first term in office — well before enactment of the Brown Act which at least theoretically forced public business out into the open for the public to admire. For his work on behalf of the public interest, Uncle Joe was denounced by the private beneficiaries of back door politics as a troublemaker.  “They fostered the notion that I was a troublemaker because I was critical, perhaps sometimes unnecessarily,” Scaramella remembered. “But, criticism in my judgment is an essential part of life. If nobody says anything negative, how can you expect things to improve?”

So how do the media in Mendocino County today stand up to Joe Scaramella’s invocation of negativity as change agent? A few pretty well — most not so good.

For criticism and negativity you’d have to concede that the Anderson Valley Advertiser wins rather easily, although there’s not much competition. The AVA, like it or not, can count numerous triumphs, from the clean-up of the County Office of Education and the return of the Courthouse law library to the public it was designed to serve in the 1990s to in-depth critical coverage of the Board of Supervisors and the legal system.

More Mendo Media at The AVA here
~~

New Network of Responsible Business Organizations Forms


From Better World Club

Turmoil at the US Chamber of Commerce Is The Backdrop

A number of Responsible Business Organizations came together on October 23rd to agree on principles for a network of responsible business organizations, the American Sustainable Business Council. The groups included New Voice of Business, Green America, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and B Corporation, among others…

The new network comes together against the backdrop of turmoil at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has announced a hardline stance against action on climate change, a policy that may have breached the Chamber’s internal rules as it was not passed by a board vote.

In September and October 2009, several companies quit the Chamber due to the Chamber’s stance on environmental impact reform, including Exelon Corp, PG&E Corp, PNM Resources, Apple Inc, and Mohawk Fine Paper. Nike, Inc decided to resign their board of directors position but to continue membership. Nike stated that they believe they can better influence policy by being part of the conversation.

Give credit where it’s due: The US Chamber of Commerce “Knows Drama” (our apologies to TNT). In a move calculated to simultaneously grandstand and stall for time (until another round of elections?), the Chamber attempted to force the Environmental Protection Agency to arrange a climate science hearing before any federal climate regulations were passed and in order to challenge the very notion of human-caused climate change.

In any case, regardless of their impact on society and whether they are warming or cooling the earth, the fossil fuels that are a substantial source of climate change are polluting. And products should be priced so that pollution and its impact on 3rd parties are discouraged.

The Chamber opposes the Waxman-Markey energy bill and is threatening to sue the EPA if it regulates greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that such a move would dramatically increase “the price of everything that uses energy.”

Take Action! WELL (Willits Econonomic Localization) Local Currrency Meeting 4pm Today Sunday 1/31/10


Map Little Lake Grange
291 School Street, Willits

Panel discussion will feature Bret Cooperrider from Ukiah Brewery discussing “Mendo Moola,” Derek Huntington, President of Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative speaking about his local buying card program, Cyndee Logan with Mendo Food Futures, commodity backed currency, and others. Sponsored by WELL (Willits Economic Localization). Please bring your own table wares in addition to potluck dish, and join us for this rousing discussion about viable local currency options for our community.
~~

We Need a Food Revolution: Michael Pollan with Oprah (VIDEO)


From PAULA CROSSFIELD
Civil Eats

On Wednesday, Michael Pollan appeared on Oprah to discuss the food system and the film Food, Inc. At the beginning of the program, entitled “Before You Grocery Shop Again: Food 101,” Oprah said that she saw Food, Inc., and it inspired her to host this discussion. “We all have to start paying more attention to what we’re putting in our bodies,” she said. “Do you know where you food really comes from? What’s been added, what’s been taken out? What goes down before they put a label on it?” Interspersed throughout the show were clips of the film, including the film’s introduction on the disconnect between our idea of food production and its reality; chicken production, featuring a farmer speaking out against the industry; and a family that can’t afford to eat real food and is forced to choose fast food.

Pollan explained how “the less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare,” siting statistics that show that in 1960, we spent 18% of our income on food and 5% on healthcare nationally, while we now spend 9% of our income on food and 17% on healthcare nationally. They got into the nitty gritty about the western diet and its pitfalls, and Oprah got a laugh when she exclaimed, “the low-fat kick made everybody fatter!”

When Oprah asks Pollan what he eats, and he speaks in favor of cooking: “I think cooking is really key because it’s the only way you’re going to take back control of your diet from the corporations who want to cook for us,” he said. “The fact is, so far corporations don’t cook that well. They tend to use too much salt, fat and sugar—much more than you would ever use at home.” The best line in the program came from Oprah: “We need a food revolution, because people want the corporations to cook for them because it all boils down to convenience.” Pollan agreed, saying that when you understand what it takes to make the food we are currently eating, “you lose your appetite.”

Article and video here
~~

Oco Time’s New Website


OcoTime.com

[What an honor to have this family, this beloved business, these employees, in our community! -DS]
~~

A Just Cause, Not a Just War


From HOWARD ZINN
Via CommonDreams

Editor’s note: The following essay appeared in the December issue of The Progressive in 2001, and was reposted here at CommonDreams.org shortly after, just three months following the events of September 11th.  As Rudyard Kipling long ago and famously observed, you can recognize wisdom amidst crisis by locating those who ‘keep their heads when all about are losing theirs.’  Zinn’s work is too vast and too incalculable to paraphrase or compile, but when you read his Violence Doesn’t Work or Changing Obama’s Mindset you easily recognize the wisdom and integrity of a man who saw beyond the hysteria of a moment.  Howard Zinn, as Daniel Ellsberg has said, “was the best human being I’ve ever known. The best example of what a human can be, and can do with their life.” We could not agree more.

A Just Cause, Not a Just War (December, 2001)

I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.

And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.

I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves?

How To Ruin Organic Farming


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

This is supposed to be good news. Our dear government has finally recognized that organic farmers are at least as deserving of bribery as all those sinful chemical farmers. After all, industrial agriculture gets $17.2 billion dollars in direct payments every year so surely a little bit of money ought also to go to holy, humble, horse and hoe husbandmen who also help keep the world from starvation. In fact, organic farmers now have their very own farm subsidy program under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to the tune of $50 million bucks. Ain’t that wonderful?

I will go as far out on the end of my bucket loader as I can and bet even money that this is the beginning of the end of organic farming. Government learned a long time ago that farmers, like everyone else, can be persuaded to do what the government wants done by handing out money. The result? Since government subsidy programs got serious about 70 years ago, the number of commercial farmers has plummeted from over 12 million to something less that one million. That’s how helpful the payments have been. Then along came small organic farmers who although unsubsidized for the most part, began doubling and tripling in number with each passing year. Whoa. Can’t have that, for heaven’s sake. That might mean that government subsidies don’t really help farmers. Maybe, perish the thought, government doesn’t know how to help farmers. Or, perish two thoughts, maybe government doesn’t really want to help farmers but just wants cheap food so the people can afford to buy more SUVs. Any trend toward farmers becoming successful without government subsidies has to be stopped. Uncle knows how to do that. Offer them money.

Full article here
~~

World-Class Absinthe from Ukiah’s Own Germain-Robin Distillery


Ansley Coale, left, and Crispin Cain sip absinthe in Ukiah, Calif.

From ERIC ASIMOV
NYT
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

In the oceanic world of distillers and spirits distributors, 200 gallons is a drip of the faucet. But at the original Germain-Robin distillery, a tiny wooden cottage on the side of a mountain just west of this small city in Mendocino County, 200 gallons is the entire annual output of one of the best absinthes made in the United States.

To adherents of absinthe’s lurid, mythic glamour, the distillery’s Absinthe Superieure must seem disappointingly pure in its mellow complexity and lingering, subtle evocation of herbs and botanicals. It’s yet another triumph for Germain-Robin, whose brandies are recognized as among the best in the world, rivaling top Cognacs and Armagnacs.

But producing distinctive, world-class brandies and spirits does not guarantee financial success in the precarious world of microdistilling. Paradoxically, Germain-Robin owes its survival to the spirit that hip bartenders and cocktail aficionados love to hate: vodka. Making vodka would never have occurred to Ansley Coale back in 1981.

He was a frustrated history professor who owned 2,000 acres in the hills above Ukiah. One day, he picked up a hitchhiker, Hubert Germain-Robin, a young French tourist whose family had made Cognac for nine generations. Mr. Germain-Robin was concerned about the direction of the Cognac industry, which he saw losing its ancient hand-distilling methods as it became more corporate.

Together, they hatched the idea of making brandy using fine wine grapes like pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, rather than the mundane ugni blanc employed in Cognac. Mr. Germain-Robin found an old copper still abandoned in Cognac and shipped it over. Mr. Coale proposed housing it on his land, which he said he had bought in 1973 for $90 an acre.

New Report: Wal-Mart and Costco kill as many jobs as they create


From AL NORMAN
Sprawl-Busters
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini

[This report MUST be included in any environmental impact reports produced by Costco and Wal-Mart for Ukiah and Mendocino County. -DS]

They don’t teach “Wal-Math” in American high schools, but here’s how it works: 1 job created – 1 job destroyed = 1 job.

Wal-Mart has never admitted the difference between gross jobs and net jobs. That’s why when Wal-Mart opened its only store in Chicago, Illinois on the west side, the retailer said: “This store will show what a great asset Wal-Mart can be to the community, as an employer and corporate citizen.” From Day One of its drive to locate stores in the Windy City, Wal-Mart based its case on jobs.

One of Wal-Mart’s most vocal apologists is Alderman Howard Brookins of the city’s 21st Ward on the South Side. “We need jobs, plain and simple,” the Alderman likes to repeat. Brookins has been so outspoken on the issue of Wal-Mart and jobs that The Chicago Tribune has referred to him as “the Alderman from Wal-Mart.”

But the jobs argument isn’t adding up in Chicago. A new study from Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has put the giant retailer on the economic defensive once again.

The study, The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighborhood’s Experience found that Wal-Mart’s opening in Chicago has produced a loss of 300 full-time jobs.

Researchers conclude that the probability of a local retailer going out of business during the study period was significantly higher for establishments close to Wal-Mart’s location.

Racial Insults and Quiet Bravery in 1960s Mississippi


From JANET MASLIN
NYT

In “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly. She labors long into the night. She is exhausted. Her eyes are stinging, her fingers bloody and sore.

Is she ironing pleats? Scrubbing toilets? Polishing silver for an all-important meeting of the local bridge club? No way. She is Miss Skeeter Phelan, a white woman. And the white women of “The Help” don’t do those demeaning jobs. They don’t do much of anything else either.

But brave, tenacious Skeeter is different. So she is slaving away on a book that will blow the lid off the suffering endured by black maids in Jackson, Miss. Skeeter’s going to call the place “Niceville,” but she won’t make it sound nice. All of Jackson’s post-sorority girls from Ole Miss will be up in arms if Skeeter’s tell-all book sees the light of day.

The trouble on the pages of Skeeter’s book is nothing compared with the trouble Ms. Stockett’s real book risks getting into. Here is a debut novel by a Southern-born white author who renders black maids’ voices in thick, dated dialect. (“Law have mercy,” one says, when asked to cooperate with the book project. “I reckon I’m on do it.”) It’s a story that purports to value the maids’ lives while subordinating them to Skeeter and her writing ambitions. And it celebrates noblesse oblige so readily that Skeeter’s act of daring earns her a gift from a local black church congregation. “This one, this is for the white lady,” the Reverend of that church says. “You tell her we love her, like she’s our own family.”

A brief word now about Ms. Stockett: When she moved to New York City from Jackson, she came to understand how deeply ambivalent she felt about her roots. If a New Yorker told her that Jackson must be beautiful, she would say it was fraught with crime. But if a New Yorker spoke contemptuously about Jackson, Ms. Stockett would rise to its defense.

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction



From CHRIS HEDGES
TruthDig

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

Much of the outrage expressed about the court’s ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”

Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin writes in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Go to full article here
~~

Italian White Bean Soup Recipe



From Farmgirl Fare

Paula Butturini’s Zuppa di Fagioli / Italian White Bean Soup
(My version made about 9 cups)

Paula says:
Whenever it’s snowing, or simply dank and cold, my family likes eating sturdy soups to ward off mid-winter chills. This hearty Italian soup—which can be made with any dried white beans or a combination of varieties—warms our kitchen while it’s cooking and warms us through when we sit down to eat it.

You can speed the whole process by using a 20-oz can of good quality, canned, white or cranberry beans, and using only 3-4 cups of water. In that case, you simply skip Steps 1 and 3, and add the canned beans and water to the stockpot at the end of Step 2.

My notes:
This is the sort of recipe that invites improvisation and experimentation. You could make it ten different times and end up with ten different soups—all of them good. Just use what you have on hand and personalize the pot to suit your taste.

I tend to prefer thick (dare I say sludgy?) soups to brothy ones, so I reduced the amount of water, upped the veggies, and added extra beans (I used canned organic cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans).

For the pork portion, I used a small but meaty smoked ham hock from the locally raised hog we bought a while back and had butchered to our specifications (and which has sadly just about all been eaten up). Good call—it added a wonderful smoky flavor. After the soup finished simmering, I cut the meat from the bone and into small pieces, then stirred the ones I didn’t pop in my mouth back into the pot.

If you want to make a vegetarian version, you could toss in some fresh (or even dried) herbs to add more depth. It would probably also be very tasty made with good chicken stock instead of water.

Go to full article here
~~

Volume has Tripled on Credit Union Web Sites


From CREDIT UNION TIMES

Consumers are being driven in higher numbers to credit union Web sites as a result of the media and government focus on big bank practices, according to National Association For Credit Unions (NAFCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

NAFCU, for one, said this week its “CULookup” locator has recorded “a tripling of volume” since the first favored mention of CUs appeared on New York pundit Arianna Huffington’s “Move Your Money” Web site.

For days, both CUNA and NAFCU have promoted their online systems aimed at providing access and convenience for consumers to make the switch from banks to CUs.  NAFCU noted that the Huffinton Post first  listed  NAFCU’s “call to action”  on Jan. 6 with commentary by  Fred Becker, president/CEO of NAFCU.

“The groundswell of positive recognition of credit unions generated by the Huffington Post campaign is a welcome testament to the good work credit unions are doing as not-for-profit, member-focused institutions,” said Becker.   The tripling of traffic, he said, “clearly reflects the keen interest that we have generated among consumers for a solid alternative to banks.”

“It doesn’t do us any good to generate great media coverage concluding that credit unions are better than banks unless we make it very easy for consumers to find one they can join,” he added.

CUNA said also its “creditunions.coop -Quickfind” also has enjoyed high volume following a contributing article on CU advantages by CUNA President Dan Mica appearing also Jan. 6 on the Huffington Post Web site. “We’ve seen a 300% traffic jump,” said a CUNA spokesman noting also CUNA’s “Quickfind” link is comprehensive in covering state and federal CUs.

Separately, CUNA also said  Mica  this month cut a new YouTube video urging viewers to “Move their Money” to a CU.
~
See also Move Your Money Local
~~

Cars fed on corn, people fed on horseshit


From JOE BAGEANT
Deer Hunting With Jesus blog
Excerpts

[My response to LTE in today's UDJ: Editor: Yikes! After being savaged by no less than Tommie Wayne Kramer, now that old meanie David Anderson weighs in, just like we knew he would (UDJ 1/25/10), calling me "...an obnoxious braying ultra Left Progressive." I'm speechless! All I can say is "Hee Haw!!" -DS]

[...] Getting back to the undeserving “leeches” in our society sponging off the rest of us … I defy you to personally go out there, take names and photos, then send them to me. And I mean personally, not just some cut and paste propaganda off the web. I am not saying you will not find any. I’m just saying pack some extra shoe leather because such citizens represent a very small portion of the national population. I’ll see you in ten years when you are finished.

In testimony to the durability of certain strains of bull shit, Republicans and neocons are still successfully flogging the old welfare queen stuff, not to mention claiming that millions of illegal aliens getting free medical services…

To my mind, socialism is this:

A community and national philosophy, a commonly shared and not necessarily politicized way of life wherein the first priority is the fundamental well-being of the people (also known as “the masses,” a term you have probably been programmed to wrinkle your brow in ominous suspicion of.) “Fundamental well-being” means that everyone eats well, enjoys safe and adequate homes and a common standard of good health. It means that children are educated to do more than just the rote tasks that serve corporate empires. It means the man actually doing the work negotiates the value of his labor. It means that somewhere in the last third or quarter of his life, that working man, after enjoying his freedom, bacon and common work, and diligently sustaining his fellow men, is released from his toil. Released into security and peace and modest but guaranteed sustenance. He is free to nurse his aches, chase old women or take up Bourbon or Buddhism. Or both, as I have. Whatever he chooses as a free man in a free and benevolent socialist society.

Don’t let the ideologues, demagogues and half-assed spoiled little middle class jerks who call themselves socialists in this country fool you. Socialism has to do with man’s innate longing for justice, the undying heart within us, and all that is generous and good in that heart. That’s why so many have so willingly died for it, and will continue to do so in corners of the world we will never see or hear about because we are not allowed to, but which are never the less part of this world, and therefore affective of this world…

Full article here
~~

“If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane…”



From The Atlantic Food Channel

The Need for Custom Slaughter
Excerpts

[...]To get around such backlogs, some small, sustainable producers have opened or purchased their own facilities. These include Will Harris’s White Oak Pastures, Georgia’s largest grass-fed beef producer; Sallie Calhoun, owner of Paicines Ranch, a grass-fed cattle operation in San Benito County, California; and Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia, made famous in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma

“It’s the best way to slaughter them because you don’t have to transport them,” Temple Grandin, the renowned author, livestock handling expert, and associate professor at Colorado State University, told me. Being trucked long distances and then herded shoulder-to-shoulder into confined areas with strange sights and noises is a huge stress on animals, she said. A cow killed on its home turf doesn’t know what hits it. “If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane,” Grandin said…

I followed Winship for about 30 miles to a building off to the side of a winding gravel road. The unimposing structure, not much bigger than a two-car garage, was the headquarters for the company that had hired Winship, Rup’s Custom Cutting, a mom-and-pop business run by Rupert LaRock and his wife, Jeanne. The spotlessly clean facility is regularly inspected by health officials, so apart from the manner in which he had died, Léo would comply with all state and federal policies regarding the sale of meat. LaRock, a butcher for 41 of his 55 years, hoisted Léo’s quarters onto meat hooks connected to an overhead rail. He immediately started spraying them with a high-pressure hose, commenting on the size and high-quality of the carcass, but nonetheless grumbling, “Cows get so dirty this time of year.” I could detect no traces of filth.

Because of the slaughterhouse shortage, LaRock is run off his feet. He processes only one cow per day. “And it gets busier all the time,” he says. If you want Rup’s to butcher, wrap, and freeze one of your steers, you have to book an appointment three to four months in advance.

For those of us who want to eat local, sustainably raised meat, LaRock has some words of encouragement. “Every time there’s an E. coli scare, my phone starts ringing. There’s so much demand out there that they are going to have to open on-farm slaughter to commercial sale soon.”

Full article here
~
See also Yes I Care For Animals And Then I Eat Them- Gene Logsdon
~~

Comments on Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!


Original article here

From DAN HAMBURG

I like Mark’s ideas a lot and would like to steal many of them (even if he does run). His observations make one wonder, though, if county government is truly as totally incompetent as he portrays. For example, Sonoma County is looking at a $30 million deficit over the same period of time (18 months) that Mendocino is facing a $7 million deficit. Are Sonoma County officials also totally incompetent? A comparison to nearly all other jurisdictions (city, county, state and federal) would yield the same result; ie, the entire country is awash in red ink.

I don’t know why “monthly departmental reports” aren’t part of the Board’s agenda but I assume (maybe mistakenly) that the CEO is getting such reports. I’d think that these reports “identify cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting, etc.” If not, they certainly should. I’d like to see the Board more involved and wonder whether reverting back to old CAO system might not help in this regard.

In any case, there needs to be a formal system for keeping track of priority items. If the CEO is failing to do this, as Mark charges each week in his column, he should be replaced.

Enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget might be a good idea. It would depend on who the “local retirees” and “volunteers” were, their skills levels, and whether they had political axes to grind.

Of course, one of the main things that drives county costs is mandates from the state and federal government (which provides 53% of county revenues) and the demand for services from an increasingly impoverished population.

I agree with Mark that salary cuts are coming. The Board realizes it too. They are making some cuts and more will come in the near future.

I also agree that supervisors would be “responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.” But they would share that responsibility with jurisdictions at higher levels that have beggared local government. Unfortunately counties and cities are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to allocation of funds in this country.

Every government budget in the state of California continues to be affected by the misbegotten Proposition 13.

Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University



~~

Why Nothing Gets Done In Mendocino County



From MARK SCARAMELLA
The AVA Online
Mendo’s Management Deficit 12/12/09
Excerpt

[...]The county has never required formal departmental reporting on a regular basis from their various departments. Such reporting is standard fare for ordinary businesses and should include preformatted reports addressing personnel/staffing, budget status, outside contracts, overtime, extra help, lost time, and the (brief) status of all special projects in the department. There are also needs to be specific identification of current and anticipated problems which each department is aware of with recommendations for how to deal with them. Problems which involve other departments should require the other department(s) to be on hand to resolve them at the time of each departmental presentation. Each department must also identify “cost drivers” — the primary factors driving their staffing levels and budgets. Each monthly report from a department must provide a summary and status of these cost drivers and what’s being done to control them.

As time passes, such reporting provides a basis for follow-up by comparing current months to previous months; objectives and assignments are accumulated with status reports each time they make presentations. The supervisors then gain an understanding of what their departments are doing, what the trends are, what affects their budgets, what can be done to handle them, and surprises will be minimized. This also provides a much better basis for annual budgeting and staffing decisions. Each department’s summaries should also include identification of which positions are funded by grants and special funds as separate from general fund positions.

Unfortunately, none of this kind of formal supervision — which you would expect from someone whose title is “supervisor” — is mentioned during political campaigns. Instead, what we get is standard, business as usual blather about water, zoning, “budget challenges,” why things can’t get done, “my position” on this or that, and the rest of the unattended, unaddressed “issues” over which the supervisors have very little control anyway.

Don’t expect anything different this year either. Candidates Hamburg, Roberts, Wells, Madrigal, Pinches, Orth, etc. can not and will not address the county’s urgent management deficit. Without such oversight, the county will continue to founder on the ever-steepening shoals of bloated, growing debt and looming revenue cuts…
~~

Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!



From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?

How about Mark?

Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.

Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.

I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems…

Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”

The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term.

What Gets Measured Gets Done



From TOM PETERS
Business Management Guru

Both of my books, In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence, are said to have placed renewed emphasis on the qualitative aspects of business — for example, on people, customer satisfaction, nurturing of unruly champions and managing by wandering around.

While that comment is true, I retain strong vestiges of my engineering training from 25 years ago and admit to being a closet quantifier. I think the soundest management advice I’ve heard is the old saw; “What gets measured gets done.”

My own organization applies this dictum rigorously. Our five-day executive seminars are organized around a series of “promises” which demand of our participants practical action in our areas: customers, innovation, people and leadership. We quantify wherever possible. Although some of the promises may seem wildly ambitious, each is thoroughly grounded in observed business practice, usually in the toughest markets.

In the customer arena, we believe that regular, quantitative measurement of customer satisfaction provides a much better lead indicator of future organizational health than does profitability or market share change. We suggest monthly measurement. Further, we urge participants to make the level of customer satisfaction the primary basis for incentive compensation and annual performance evaluation for virtually every person at every level in every function throughout the organization. We also urge every organizational unit in every function to develop key quality measures. Progress should be posted on charts in every work space, and a quantitative goal report should be the first item of business at every staff meeting, regardless of topic.

Next, we specify that all marketers should be out in the field, listening to customers, at least 50 percent of the time. Even manufacturing or operations managers should be out with customers, listening, at least 15 percent of the time. In a related vein, each senior manager should habitually call at least four customers (ultimate users, distributors or major franchisees) each week from a “top 100″ customer list kept in his, or her, upper desk drawer or wallet.

Complete article here
~~

Let’s Do It!



From digby
Hullabaloo Blog

Howie caught a statement about yesterday’s results that’s well worth reading:

Marcy Winograd, the progressive Democrat running against Blue Dog Jane Harman, could well be swept into office on the same kind of tide– although of a more enlightened variety– that helped Scott Brown. On the surface she blames overnight bank bailouts and mandated health insurance for what happened last night. Her perspective:

Unfortunately, the Republicans were able to craft Brown’s campaign as an insurgent struggle for the working people against ever-intrusive big government. All they had to do was point their finger at overnight bank bail-outs & mandated private health insurance, then scream about corporate welfare and attacks on individual freedoms. Too many Democrats stayed home, no longer energized by the possibility of change, only deflated by the politics of appeasement. We need the Democratic leadership to keep the keys to our treasury, rather than allow the banking, health insurance, and big pharmaceutical interests to raid it under the banner of the Democratic Party. If we stand for the people, the people will stand with us. Campaigns for progressive congressional challengers offer the greatest promise for re-energizing the base and mobilizing Democrats to vote in mid-term elections.

Washington faces the danger of drawing the wrong conclusions, of believing that the current Democratic Party leadership must abandon a progressive agenda for labor rights and immigration reform and, instead, bow to the most reactionary forces in American politics. Quite the contrary. The Party must redefine itself as the voice of working people, of immigrants, of women, of the populist.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,549 other followers