In Around Mendo Island, Michael Foley on February 1, 2013 at 6:05 am
From MICHAEL FOLEY
Last week a group of Willits residents launched a growing protest against the start of CalTrans’ by-pass project through the Little Lake Valley. Why do we protest? For one, because our political system and our politicians have failed us.
Instead of allowing the citizens of Willits to choose among a range of alternatives, democratically, we were invited to participate in a bureaucratic process, with the stipulation that the bureaucrats got to decide. A few of us participated. The Willits Environmental Center took a special interest once CalTrans decided to plough through what remains of our Little Lake. A lot of ranchers and local landowners took part in a forum to hear about CalTrans’ mitigation plan (still not complete, I might add). They were angry at the agency’s decision to renege on its promises to landowners that they would be able to continue grazing on lands acquired by the agency to “mitigate” for destroying the wetlands at the north end of the valley. CalTrans heard a lot from the ranchers, and more from WEC, but scarcely listened, because CalTrans, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other bureaucracies were going to make the ultimate decisions. Our elected officials, or most of them, conservative, liberal, and whatjamacallit in between, all supported the bureaucrats. More…
In Around Mendo Island, Michael Foley on September 12, 2011 at 6:24 am
From MICHAEL FOLEY
The FDA is on a campaign to ban raw milk sales. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has made it increasingly difficult for people to sell raw milk in the state and recently issued “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares across the state, including one here in Mendocino County (public disclosure: the one my wife, Sara Grusky and I have been supplying).
A task force of agencies, including FDA and CDFA, fronted by a SWAT team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, recently raided the Rawsome food buying club in Venice, California, seizing produce, destroying milk stocks, confiscating cash, and arresting the owners. The charges? Processing and sale of unpasteurized milk to club members, plus storing unwashed eggs at room temperature. Heavy stuff. Meanwhile, federal regulators were walking executives of Cargill, the grain and meat giant, through a “cost-benefit analysis” to see if it was worth while recalling ground turkey after more than 100 people were sickened and one Californian died of salmonella poisoning. (In the end, Cargill voluntarily recalled 36 million pounds of their product. No charges have been filed.) No one has reported illnesses at Rawsome or among the dairy shares targeted.
So what’s a reasonable person to think? The FDA’s food czar, Michael Taylor (poster boy for the revolving door between American’s most hated corporation, Monsanto, and America’s most hated public institution) recently defended his agency’s preoccupation with tiny dairy share operations as a vital part of protecting public health. Those of us who would like our milk fresh, whole and uncooked, defend dairy shares More…
In Around Mendo Island, Michael Foley on October 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm
From MICHAEL FOLEY
As the electoral season comes to a close, there’s a question nagging that hasn’t been asked the candidates for Board of Supervisors and city councils around the county. To my mind it’s the key question. What I as a voter and citizen want to know is: What do you propose to do about the democratic deficit in the county?
No, not the fiscal deficit. I’ve heard all your answers (and they don’t much impress me). I mean the democratic deficit.
What’s a democratic deficit? To start with, we’re saddled with fundamentally undemocratic institutions. At both county and city levels, we’re asked to choose five people to make decisions for thousands, with no more provision that they bide by the wishes of the public than the custom that most meetings start with something called “public expression.” As if citizen participation were a matter of group therapy, with citizens allowed a minute or two to get it off our chests. Then we’ll all feel better. Right.
I know. I know. If we’re dissatisfied with our representatives, we can always vote them out. Some years hence. That’s “democracy.” But the fact is that Supervisors and council members alike are expected to make up their own minds on matters of public concern and cast the deciding votes. Not us. And worse, in the case of the city councils, there are often more people affected by our five member directorate living outside city limits — and therefore without a vote — than living inside.
Because I’m troubled by the lack of democracy in this whole arrangement, moreover, I’m not impressed with your “qualifications”. Let me be perfectly clear where I’m coming from. I have a couple of degrees in something whimsically named More: Beyond Elections…
In Michael Foley on October 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm
Diane L. Hering
Membership Outreach Coordinator
Mendocino County Public Broadcasting
Dear Ms. Hering:
We are responding to your recent letter asking that we renew our membership. Currently, my wife and I seem to have two memberships, involving monthly charges of $15 each to two different credit cards, both in my name.
The recent decision to switch Democracy Now! from morning to 4 pm has distressed our whole household. Our exchanges with Station Manager John Coate and Program Director Mary Aigner have not been satisfactory. In fact, Coate was downright rude when I wrote to protest. He had to be told I was a member before returning to civility. They contradicted one another regarding the weight of the so-called survey that attempted to appraise listener preferences (I say “attempted” because, as a former social scientist, I know that this sort of “survey” is the least reliable of all methods for getting a true sample of listener opinions).
We started our day with KZYX when Democracy Now! was broadcast at 8 am, and we often continued with the 9 am programs, despite a busy farm schedule. We no longer do so. We will not listen to NPR’s politically compromised pablum any more than we have to, and we don’t have to.
The result is that we listen to KZYX much less than half the time we used to, and that is unlikely to change, given our schedules. There are many fine programs on KZYX, NPR news shows excepted, and we would like to continue to support the station. We would also like to see a change of leadership. But that is another matter.
In Michael Foley on January 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm
From MICHAEL FOLEY
The Next American Revolution Blog→
From the moment the news of Haiti’s devastating earthquake hit the White House, the U.S. has been committed to a military presence there. Yesterday, Haitian President Rene Preval officially granted the U.S. control of the Port au Prince airport, but the U.S. military has been in control from Day Two. Complaints have been coming in from organizations as well-known as Doctors Without Borders that the military has obstructed the flow of aid, turning back one important shipment three times over the last few days. This morning Amy Goodman’s report from Haiti on Democracy Now! showed U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne clutching their rifles and machine guns while directing crowds at Port au Prince’s General Hospital, unbidden by the medical staff there. Across the street was the flattened pharmacy, where medical supplies and the bodies of pharmacists, doctors and patients were buried. No soldier lent his hands to uncover the bodies or search for supplies. After all, they had their hands full.
There is no “security crisis” in Haiti. At least that is the testimony of the doctors, volunteers and those journalists who venture into the so-called red zones established by the military. According to Dr. Evan Lyon, the American surgeon working at the General Hospital, there are clinics with ten or twenty doctors and ten patients in so-called “secure” areas, but a thousand wait for surgery at General Hospital, which has only enough supplies to continue to operate for another 12 hours. Maybe the 82nd Airborne, now that they’ve arrived, will help get those supplies downtown. But they’ll have to put their guns down first.
The U.S. reaction to the crisis in Haiti has been likened to the Bush administration’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Fear the victims. Fear the black face in a sea of crisis. But the focus on “security” and reliance on a military presence in the face of untold human suffering bespeaks a deeper malady. more→
In Michael Foley on January 2, 2010 at 8:02 am
From MICHAEL FOLEY and SARA GRUSKY
Next American Revolution blog→
Welcome to The Next American Revolution, coming soon to your neighborhood. Or so we can hope. Because the revolution we need will have to come neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community, congressional district by congressional district.
Nothing is more depressing, given the corrupted state of our politics, than to hear responsible and perceptive critics of business as usual calling for greater efforts to secure federal funds to solve local problems, as we did this morning on our local public radio station. Of course we need all the help we can get, especially in rural counties like ours, where unemployment is high and underemployment higher, where poverty levels are growing and state services shrinking. Of course we could benefit from help from any source.
But all those federal funds out there — for small business development, for green enterprise, for strengthening local food systems, for creating jobs — come at some price. One price is the procrustean bed of Congressional micro-management on which all proposals must stretch and the limited reach, consequently, of such funding. “Small business,” if I’m not mistaken, is currently defined as any business employing fewer than 500 employees, and much of what the Small Business Administration does caters to businesses at the larger end of the spectrum. Local start-ups need not apply.