Wendy Roberts – The Company She Keeps*

Mendocino County

5th District Supervisorial Candidate Wendy Roberts often states that she has always been a Democrat  except for a period when she supported Pete McCloskey, a staunch Republican environmentalist who represented Santa Clara county.  I haven’t heard her explain why supporting McCloskey required her to be a Republican.  Many other Democrats who supported McCloskey did not change party to do so.

The company she keeps makes you wonder.  Last week, Roberts visited the neighborhood where my partner, Bill, and I live.  While in the neighborhood she replaced a smaller sign left from the June primary election (having never removed it, in violation of election law) with a bigger sign that is flanked by two Republican candidates, one for state assembly and the other for the seat held by longtime Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson.  At least one of the Republican signs was there when she directed the placement of her new, larger sign.  No, Roberts, you can’t say you didn’t know.

During the same visit she placed a mailer directly into our mailbox.  She could have placed the mailer in one of our three newspaper boxes, but did not, saving postage but violating federal law, which prohibits placing anything other than stamped mail in mailboxes.

Smart cities are (un)paving the way for urban farms


If some sort of natural disaster or terrorist attack were to shut down New York City’s food supply chain, our supermarket shelves would reportedly be picked clean within three days. Other U.S. cities aren’t any better prepared for such emergencies, thanks to our fuelish dependence on a globalized food system.

So my husband Matt keeps a bin filled with tins of sardines under the bed in our sardine tin-sized Manhattan apartment. Plus two cans of organic vegetarian chili, and a Kelp Krunch sesame energy bar. He’s on a self-sufficiency kick, too; makes his own vanilla extract, sauerkraut, duck rillette, and cat food. I guess we’ll be in pretty good shape if calamity comes a-callin’.

But how will our fellow New Yorkers feed themselves? Will they pluck purslane from the sidewalk cracks? Raid Annie Novak’s rooftop farm? Where will the freegans forage when the dumpsters are as empty as a Palin stump speech?

Jim Houle vs. Ron Epstein: Paved with Good Intentions and Response

Redwood Valley

Ron Epstein’s post Why The Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant Is A Bad Idea, also published in the Ukiah Daily Journal, attempts to explain why he thinks the plan for an asphalt hot mix plant at the Harris Quarry site south of Willits is a really bad idea. The proposal is by Northern Aggregates, a small Willits-based firm in the basalt and crushed stone business for over 20 years with less than $3 million in yearly sales and employing 25 people. Their application for a permit was turned down two years back and has now been scaled back to eliminate the companion ready-mix concrete batch plant and by restricting the life of the plant to 30 year life rather than allowing operation the site until the “end of life” of the quarry, which could be 70 years from now. A new EIR will by ready by October and the public will have 45 days to challenge it before submittal to the Board of Supervisors.

Ron Epstein, getting off the first salvo against this yet unpublished plan argues that there are: (1) serious cancer risks from asphalt fumes; (2) That it would seriously pollute the greater Ukiah area with these carcinogens; (3) That while the original EIR concluded that health and odor were insignificant, it did not take into account the volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Why We’re Scared Of Happy Meals


It’s pretty much conventional wisdom that you don’t head to McDonald’s for a healthy treat. And, if you’ve seen Fast Food Nation, you’ll know that the chain’s offerings have got a whole lot of icky ingredients. Though we don’t really like to think about that while munching on a Big Mac, NYC artist Sally Davies did, creating an art project that provides evidence that Mickey D’s food really is the worst shiz you can put in your body. Davies took a Happy Meal sized burger and fries, put it on her living room table, and as Bravo says, decided to “watch what happens.” She photographs said meal every day, and 137 days into the project (with no end in site), the results are remarkable in the fact that they’re really unremarkable. To our eyes, the burger and fries look exactly on the same on day 1 as on day 137. Hungry yet?

Slideshow here

Money vs fossil energy: the battle for control of the world

Co-Originator, Permaculture
Thanks to Bart Anderson, Energy Bulletin

This essay provides a framework for understanding the ideological roots of the current global crisis that I believe is more useful than the now tired Left Right political spectrum. I use this framework to provide a commentary on current political machinations around Climate Change and Peak Oil. Building from the same energetic literacy that informs Permaculture and Future Scenarios, it challenges much of the strategic logic behind current mainstream climate change activism. Like the Future Scenarios work, this essay is intended to help environmental and social activists better avoid the obstacles to effective action in a chaotic age.

David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of the permaculture concept. He lives with his partner Su Dennett at Melliodora, a permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, Central Victoria.

The unfolding climate/energy/economic crisis is heating up a very old rift in global industrial politics. This rift derives from two core beliefs on what constitutes the source of wealth. Does wealth come from human creativity and innovation or is it found in the natural world? Is human capacity the source or a by-product of real power?

I believe two alternative (and mostly complementary) paradigms that are implied by these questions, have shaped the history of the modern world perhaps more so than the Left-Right political ideologies.

Abe Lincoln and Dr. King could only look on aghast at this clown


America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants — Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?

Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.

Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

King: “Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter.”

Beck: “I think the president is a racist.”

Washington was on edge on the morning of Aug. 28, 1963. The day was sunny and very warm and Negroes, as we were called in those days, were coming into town by the tens of thousands. The sale of liquor was banned. Troops stood by to restore order if matters got out of control. President John F. Kennedy waited anxiously in the White House to see how the day would unfold.

It unfolded splendidly. The crowd for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” grew to some 250,000. Nearly a quarter of the marchers were white. They gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were enthralled by the singing of Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez.

Mendocino County Supervisor Election: The crucial differences between Dan Hamburg and Wendy Roberts

Vote Hamburg District 5 Supervisor

In the aftermath of my debate with Wendy Roberts for Ukiah Valley TV (to be broadcast on MCTV), I want to describe what I see as the difference between your two candidates for supervisor.  Wendy is a self-described “Stanford liberal.”  As such, she doesn’t deeply question corporate prerogatives, often repeating the contention that “they’re all good people.”  She describes the MLPAI in this vein, insisting that the Resources Legacy Foundation Fund (funded by the family charities of Intel, Getty, Packard, etc.) has no particular agenda when it comes to the disposition of our coast.  She believes that the placement of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, chief operating officer and chief of staff for the Western States Petroleum Association, on the Task Force making decisions for us raises no particular concern.  On other issues–from the privatization of county solid waste disposal to the increasing loss of agricultural land to outside real estate investment trusts–she voices support or raises no loud objection.

Todd Walton: Revenooers


“What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.” Thomas Paine

A mile inland from Highway One, the Comptche-Ukiah Road becomes a two-mile straightaway traversing rolling hills of pine and huckleberry and manzanita. There are no speed limit signs on this straightaway, no reminders of the legal maximum, and this absence of warnings combined with the sudden end to constrictive curves at either end of the straightaway tempts many a driver to go really fast.

The house we rent is set back a hundred yards from the straightaway, the sounds of passing cars and motorcycles muffled by intervening trees, with traffic after midnight rare. Of late, the California Highway Patrol has been a daily presence on the straightaway, the rise and fall of the road over hill and dale creating a perfect spot mid-straightaway for a CHP vehicle to sit by the side of the road and snag the unwary zoomster. This turnout is invisible from either direction until just before you come upon the gravel outlay, and by then there is simply no denying how fast you’re going.

Support Local Raw Milk


[I’ve been drinking raw milk regularly since childhood, and raised my kids on it. I’m a dedicated imbiber of local, non-pasteurized, raw goat’s milk. Please support your own health, and our local, mom-and-pop, raw dairies. Ain’t nobody’s business if you do. -DS]

What a surprise! “Pseudo” farm organizations like Farm Bureau — an oxymoron — now support Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s veto of a proud bill to legalize raw milk in the Dairy State, all in the name of protecting everyone from … what? The existing centralized, monopolized, industrialized food system is literally owned and operated by a handful of dominating cartels, who in turn, are in bed with agencies such as the FDA. According to the centers for Disease Control, this well-subsidized inner sanctum of a corporate-state food alliance kills 5,000 Americans annually, hospitalizes over 300,000 every year, and sickens at home an estimated millions more.

Take Action, Ukiah: The hidden costs of Wal-Mart’s plans for expansion

Guest Opinion: Robert Eyler

[The Wal-Mart in Rohnert Park wants to expand by 35,000 square feet primarily for the purpose of selling groceries. On April 22, the plan was rejected by the Planning Commission on a 4-0 vote.]

On the surface, the expansion of Rohnert Park’s Wal-Mart into a supercenter is alluring.

This expansion adds a grocery component, and the Rohnert Park’s City Council, which will soon review the plan, will likely focus on the assumed sales tax generation and job creation such an expansion will provide.

It is important to recognize that an expansion of mainly grocery items will not generate a large amount of additional sales tax revenue, and the assumed loss of Pacific Market could lead to fewer jobs, reduced tax revenues, less consumer choice and create a significant vacancy problem at Mountain Shadows Plaza.

The issue for Rohnert Park decision makers is whether the environmental impact report has adequately assessed the cost/benefits of this expansion. Our evaluation shows there will be many hidden costs.

A New Deal for Local Economies: The Good News

Story here

A New Deal for Local Economies: II. The Birth of Corporations
A New Deal for Local Economies: III. Bigger Is Not Better
A New Deal for Local Economies: IV. The Value of Community
A New Deal for Local Economies: V. Keeping Money Local

Let me begin by sharing some good news. Scattered here and there, in my country and in yours, the seeds of a new, more local and durable economy are taking root.

Locally grown food has soared in popularity. There are now 5,274 active farmers markets in the United States. Remarkably, almost one of every two of these markets was started within the last decade.(1)  Food co-ops and neighborhood greengrocers are likewise on the rise.

Some 400 new independent bookstores have opened in the last four years.(2) Neighborhood hardware stores are making a comeback in some cities. More students graduating from pharmacy school report that they would rather open their own drugstore than work for chain. In April, even as Virgin Megastores prepared to shutter its last U.S. record emporium, more than a thousand independent music stores were mobbed for the second annual Record Store Day.

Small Business News from the New Rules Project


Misrepresenting Small Business
In this commentary for Business Week, the New Rules Project’s Stacy Mitchell argues that the two groups that have traditionally spoken for small business in Washington often push an agenda that only big business could love . READ MORE

Grassroots Financing is Underwriting a New Crop of Neighborhood Businesses
Securing a loan to open a new independent bookstore in Brooklyn looked like a long shot even before the financial crisis. After the meltdown, it seemed downright impossible.

Then business partners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting hit on an idea: they turned to neighbors and future customers to help finance the business, raising $70,000 in small loans in a few months.

Although no hard data exist, the number of businesses relying on their customers and neighbors for financing appears to be on the rise. Just as CSAs have played a key role in the rebirth of small-scale farms, so too may these new community-supported enterprise models help launch a new generation of independent grocers, bookstores, and other neighborhood businesses.   READ MORE

Shut Up and Eat Your Sugar

Story here

Manufacturers of processed and fast food for kids are throwing a fit over stronger industry standards

OK, children, homework time.

Let’s see if we can handle this little lesson in logic. One, America has a rather huge child obesity problem. Two, major food corporations constantly pitch ads to children for such stuff as sugar-saturated breakfast cereals and fat-laden “Happy Meals.” So, how does fact No. 2 relate to fact No. 1? Yes, No. 2 is a cause of No. 1. It’s really not that hard to grasp, is it?

Not unless you’re a lobbyist for a food manufacturer. Last year, Congress directed four federal agencies to work together on new standards for commercials that food giants run on cartoon shows and other TV programs for children. This intervention was necessary, because the industry’s own voluntary program to push healthy choices for kids was, at best, loosey-goosey. For example, such sugar bombs as Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes were nutritionally A-OK by industry standards–as was a candy named Yogos, the main ingredient of which is sugar.

So, the agencies came up with nutritional requirements that were at least strict enough to prevent the marketing of candy as a healthy food. Ah, progress! But–oh, mercy–the howl of pain from industry lobbyists was piercing. One shrieked that the new proposal “would virtually end all food advertising

Book Review: Star Island, Carl Hiaasen

Review here

An expert fisherman and passionate environmentalist, Hiaasen uses a sunny combination of satire and outrage to expose the greedy, crooked creeps that make Florida such a weird place. He’s been doing it as a reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald for almost 35 years and has brought his wicked wit and true moral compass to a series of popular novels. Success hasn’t softened his sharp eye or caused him to pull his punches (although he did write a humorous golf book). Like John Grisha and Stephen King, Hiaasen uses his fame to speak up for what he believes and supports worthy causes. He is one of the good guys.

He’s also a brand-name author. The golf book and an enthusiastically received trio of young-adult novels have moved Hiaasen from slapsticky, mildly raunchy crime novelist to Big Time Author. Star Island, his new novel, is his first for adults in five years. It has all the usual Hiaasen elements — a sleazy developer, a level-headed heroine, a collection of lowlifes that makes the criminals in an Elmore Leonard novel look brainy, and a contemporary subject (in this case, celebrity culture) ripe for the satirical picking.

Star Island also has two recurring characters who are fan favorites: Skink, the touchy, roadkill-gobbling ex-governor of Florida; and Chemo, a former bouncer in a punk club who had a weed wacker attached to one arm after a too-close encounter with a barracuda in Skin Tight.

What about the founding principles?


To the Editor (UDJ):

Wait a minute, hold on a second here. Last time I got out of bed in the morning I was living in the United States of America, a land that was settled by people seeking freedom from religious persecution. These settlers eventually established a new and independent nation with founding principles stated in a written Constitution, and this written Constitution established religious freedom as its very first principle.

In fact this principle of religious freedom was stated in two different but complementary ways: First, that no religion could ever be established as the government-approved, government-supported faith, and, second, that no one could be restricted in the exercise of and expression of his or her beliefs.

And now all of a sudden it seems that this great principle, this great step in the history of freedom that we Americans were the first to take, this bold stroke that for 200 years and more has earned the esteem of people all over the world has suddenly fallen into disrepute and no longer interests us.

Politicians running for office and preachers who should know better and fops who act the role of journalist on cable TV are telling us

What’s your gut telling you?


Did you know that nine out of every 10 cells in your body are your intestinal bacteria? When they are healthy and happy, you are healthy and happy. And what makes them happy?

Let’s back up a bit and remember the compost pile. Compost is the source and destination of all life. Shakespeare knew that. The Friar in Romeo & Juliet says, “What’s nature’s mother is her tomb/What is her burying grave, that is her womb.” And what is compost? It’s the decomposed remains of what was once living tissue. And who does the decomposition? Soil bacteria, primarily, although other critters get in on the act, too. But it’s the soil bacteria that play the biggest role in actively decomposing organic matter.

Many of the soil bacteria that are the wrecking crew of dead tissue are the same or closely related to the bacteria in our guts. They have the same function–to actively tear apart dead tissue and release its nutrients for those creatures–plants and animals–currently alive. The atoms are eternal, but are endlessly recycled into living beings and then into dead tissue and then into constituent molecules and then back into living beings.

Now, the greater the biodiversity in an ecosystem, the healthier that ecosystem is. In a compost pile, all kinds of bacteria, fungi, worms, and what have you co-exist in a roaring furnace of life.

Seven Tips to Enhance Digestion… And Get the Most Out of the Food You Eat

Story here

[“OMG! Dave is doing blog posts about digestion. He has hit geezer status for sure!”]

In our fast-paced, fast-food society we have totally lost the connection between our health and the foods we eat. My recent conversation with a client is a perfect example of this “disconnect.” With his permission he said I could share his story as long as I didn’t mention his name, so we’ll call him Bob. Like most of us, Bob has a very busy schedule. He works long hours, has three children and is very involved in their sports. In fact, he says he rarely misses a game. Bob skips breakfast or sometimes has a donut and coffee, mostly has fast food for lunch and eats it in the car while rushing back to work, has a snack out of the vending machine at work in the afternoon, and usually grabs a hot dog or something quick at the game for dinner. Bob’s symptoms include indigestion, “acid reflux,” gas, bloating, constipation, and painful hemorrhoids. He says that he practically lives on antacids and even wakes up to take them two or three times during the night. He went to the emergency room on two occasions for severe gallbladder attacks and had his gallbladder removed two years ago. The biggest problem with Bob is that he never made the connection between the foods he was eating,

The Foods You Shouldn’t Touch With a Ten Foot Pole

Story here

[…] the importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be overestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed, “dead” foods.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food, but in recent years scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was.

For example, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your number one defense system against ALL disease.

Therefore, it should come as no major surprise to find out that lack of beneficial bacteria in your intestines will also allow allergies, inflammation and autoimmune diseases to flourish where they might not otherwise.

Common signs and symptoms that you may need to address your intestinal balance include:

Engaging ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids’ Will Help Children Understand the Food They Eat

Review here

Just about everyone has eaten something that comes from a crop doused with pesticides so toxic that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed. Or that must be stored for six months after harvest to allow the pesticides to fade.  What crop is it? Learn that and so much more in the Young Readers Edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Dial Books) by Michael Pollan, adapted by Richie Chevat.  Based on Pollan’s adult book of the same title, the new version is simplified and updated, contains informative side notes and visuals and concludes with a new afterward, eating tips, a question and answer section and empowering resources. Though intended for ages 10 and up, Pollan’s detective work, substantive content and eloquent writing will engage readers of all ages interested in food production.

To solve the modern “omnivore’s dilemma” (we can eat anything, but how do we know what to eat?), Pollan investigates four meals representative of four different food chains – the system for growing, making and delivery food. He wants to share with us where our food comes from and what exactly it is we are eating. So, he starts in the farms and fields where our food is grown and personably chronicles its creation and consumption.

First, Pollan documents the “industrial” food chain,

Tea Partiers: Stooges for Oil Billionaires


On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum,


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