Sunday, July 31, 2011

Citizens United: Final Nail in the Coffin of Democracy in America?

BellsImage by bionicteaching via FlickrCitizens United - Final Nail in the Coffin of Democratic Elections?

- a discussion hosted by the Election Integrity Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon -

Sunday, August 7th, 10 am - 11:15 am


Introduction to Election Integrity Caucus
  • Panel on Citizens United
  • Brief History of Corporate Personhood
  • Brief History of Campaign Finance Reform
  • "Citizens United" Supreme Court Decision
  • Problem in Elections Post-"Citizens United" / Examples from 2010 Mid-Term Elections
  • Strategies/Solutions/Action Items to Counter "Citizens United" Decision
  • Discussion with Attendees
LOCATION: Rex Putnam High School, 4950 SE Roethe Rd., Milwaukie, OR (Directions)
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Near/in Keizer? Still plenty of time to grow a great summer/fall garden!

HarvestImage by greenhem via Flickr
Whittam Community Garden, located at 5205 Ridge Dr. NE in Keizer, has 8 garden plots available.

Plots are free if you donate produce to Keizer Food Bank, and only $5 for the rest of the year for personal use. Plots are 6’ x 12’ raised beds.

If interested, please contact Kathy Whittam -

Ian Dixon-McDonald
Community Gardens Program Director
Marion-Polk Food Share

T: 503-581-3855 x329 C: 503-798-0339 F: 503-581-3862
1660 Salem Industrial Drive NE, Salem OR 97301-0374
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Attention recent and soon-to-be HS grads!

You owe it to yourself to start your college search here. If you attend this school first, all your subsequent school choices are likely to be much more valuable to you, even if they are much more traditional.

Speaking of which, here's a non-traditional opportunity that could be perfect for a self-educating young person:
The Marion-Polk Food Share Community Gardens Program is currently accepting applications for a service opportunity through Oregon Red Cross AmeriCorps.

The service member will focus on developing and running youth garden programs in Marion and Polk counties. Three main projects include developing curriculum, facilitating partnerships, and assisting with the summer garden youth crews.

For full job description (pdf)

Service member will receive
  • a $5,550 education award upon completion for future tuition or payment on qualified student loans (taxed),

  • a living allowance of $12,100 for 11 months (before taxes),

  • loan forbearance on qualified student loans,

  • basic healthcare coverage and childcare assistance (if household income qualifies).

    The selected applicant will have to complete an AmeriCorps application online. For more information on AmeriCorps, see
This opportunity requires a full-time, 40 hours a week commitment for the duration of 11 months. Begins Tuesday Sept. 6. To apply, send a resume and cover letter to:

Applications must be received by August 5th.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sad, but well done

The StageImage by GlenBledsoe via FlickrThe hardest thing, many organizations find, is knowing when to stop.

Many never figure it out and they struggle on, consuming resources and generating debts, until finally they flicker out, leaving unpaid debts, exhausted volunteers, and (often) unpaid staffers behind.

It's sad, in a way, that the Salem Community Concert Association has folded. On the other hand, good for their leadership for being able to read the handwriting on the wall and knowing enough not to plow on despite the warnings until the iceberg was hit (I don't know how many walls there are up in the frigid polar waters where the icebergs are, but mixing metaphors is at most a misdemeanor offense on the information highway, right?).
The Salem Community Concert Association, the oldest concert series in the area, is ending after 74 years.

The organization has canceled the five concerts planned for 2011-12 because lagging season-ticket sales would not cover expenses, board president Esther Ediger announced Tuesday.

"We had lots of projects, we had lots of hopes, and we had some promises, but not enough money in the bank," said Ediger. "We used up all our reserves."

The organization had sold just 140 season tickets for the coming season, far short of what it needed to make its budget of about $27,000.

Rather than go into debt, the board decided unanimously last week to dissolve. Volunteers planned to mail refunds to season-ticket buyers and donors on Tuesday.

In the series' heyday, concert-goers snapped up all 1,000 season tickets, guaranteeing financial success.

As a result, the concert association could attract world-famous musicians including classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, opera singer Roberta Peters and pianist Misha Dichter.

But in recent years, the concert association's loyal core has aged, said Ediger, and more events have competed for music lovers' money. Season-ticket sales slipped from 240 three years ago.

"We've seen changes in the way people do things, the way they buy tickets and the growth of Salem art associations," she said. "We wish everyone well, but there is so much to choose from." . . .
Good for them for having the courage to face the facts, for exiting with grace, and leaving the field to other, more vital groups, rather than dividing the shrinking pie up into ever smaller slices. The arts scene in Salem is better off for this decision, regrettable though it is. If you know any of the leadership of the SCCA, thank them for all that they offered through the years, and also for not trying to live on past what the community was willing to support.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't be a sucker. Stay away from Payday loans.

A shop window advertising payday loans.Image via Wikipedia The only way to avoid being bled by payday loan outfits is to stay the hell away from them. Evidence here.

You should never be in a position where you have to pay money to cash your paycheck, or to accept a huge interest rate because you need a couple hundred bucks to get to next payday.

If you are financially strapped and don't know how to get on your feet or get ahead, then you need to do one thing first, ahead of anything else:


Salem has a number of them, no matter who you are you can join one or more of them.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

The problem, my friends, is blowing in the wind

Plastic bag treeImage by timparkinson via FlickrBellingham, Washington, shows how it's done. They put a plastic bag ban into law with zero resistance from merchants, to general acclaim all around.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scam Alert -- Wildly overpriced "water supply line" insurance targets seniors in NE Salem

Attention yellow2Image via WikipediaI usually keep my day job and LOVESalem pretty separate, but there are times when the interests merge, such as when I learn that there's a scam targeting seniors here in Salem.
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Oh, what a tangled web we weave

Mount Doom and Sauron's tower of Barad-dûr in ...Image via WikipediaLooks like one of the urak-hai, the extra corrupt and nasty orcs, was working for Rupert Murdoch while also working both sides of the street in the much-ado-about-nothing "Climategate" "scandal".

That was the imbroglio manufactured by a credulous press that finds actual science all much too confusing and prefers something much simpler and more familiar: stealing emails and excerpting little bits in a carefully chosen order so as to make them appear to say something nefarious.

"Climategate" could safely be forgotten if it hadn't been carefully created just when needed to prevent global action on climate, and if it had not become an article of faith among the know-nothings in the GOP and their house organ, Faux News (another of Sauron's legions).
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Still no slippery slope from Death with Dignity

A woman swats away the stork which has brought...Image via WikipediaOne of the worst things about our debased media culture is that there is absolutely no memory -- the press is so busy chasing the latest skirt scandal that they never have any time to reflect, to ponder, or to go back and review the scare-story predictions made about the parade of horrible things sure to result when some tiny step towards progress threatens to occur.

Consider Oregon's Death with Dignity law. It's worth noting, again and again, that every single claim about the horrific outcomes has been wrong, year after year after year. People are not flocking to Oregon to kill themselves. The handicapped and disabled haven't been encouraged to off themselves. People who are "sad" don't get lethal prescriptions. Docs aren't encouraging patients to off themselves as soon as the insurance money stops.

The uber-claim of the anti-dignity folks was that letting people die without excruciating pain would somehow "devalue life." Well, to the extent that "life" has been devalued in Oregon, it has been because the people who opposed Death with Dignity also relentlessly oppose and create obstacles to letting people control their own lives in those critical areas around whether or not to give birth, marry, or depart this mortal coil.

The basic principle of the people who fought to try to force the rest of us to face death on their terms alone is that you do not have the right to decide the most intimate matters of your own life -- whether you give birth, or whether you can marry the person you love, or whether you should be able to avoid a hellish end of unbearable pain.

It's important to remember and to bring this up because the people who fought against letting us decide to hasten our own deaths are absolutely fanatical in their virulent hatred of freedom and their determination to roll back progress. They want to force rape victims to bear their rapists' child; they want to make it impossible for same sex couples to marry; they want to deny the poor access to birth control; and they want to return to the time when only the rich could get help from a doctor to ease their suffering from a terminal illness.

If you value your freedom, if you think that you and you alone should decide the most intimate matters of life, then you need to be alert to who these people are. Because the media never holds them to account and points out that none of the horrible things they said would happen ever do.

As we enjoy the bliss of a gorgeous Oregon summer, take a moment to remember that there are people who hate that you might decide what is best for you for yourself, without giving them a say or letting them decide for you. And join or send something to the groups that fight for your rights all year long.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pile on!! Let's all laugh at the idiots running Oak Park, Michigan

Gardening Is Not a Criminal Offense!Image by KGI.ORG via FlickrThe interwebs are all abuzz with the insanity in Oak Park, Michigan, where a pompous, self-important idiot has cited a woman for creating a tidy raised-bed garden in her front lawn.

I've lost count of how many places have blogged about the ticket heard (with charges eventually withdrawn) 'round the world.

And, let's face it, the best you can say about the guy is that he's totally clueless, and is likely to be forever famous for trying to impose his own personal suburban vision on the people paying his salary. What a maroon.

But, because pride goeth before a fall, it's best not to be too smug.

What about here in oh-so-sustainable Salem in trendy Green Oregon? We wouldn't have any laws that reflect nothing more than class bias and an attempt to enforce that same sort of suburban conformity, would we?
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

A reason to be thankful for living in Oregon: the Death with Dignity option

Compassion and Choices of Oregon, part of the national network "Compassion and Choices," responds to just the latest in a long series of absurd attacks on Oregonians' voter-approved freedom to end the suffering caused by a terminal illness.

What is most distressing about the debased media culture we live in is that, once the media decides you are a "point of view," you can never lose your status as being worthy of being consulted, no matter how unfounded are the things you say, no matter how grossly wrong you are, no matter how many years of data pile up that completely refute your arguments.

U.S. Catholic bishops misunderstand our death-with-dignity laws

By Harris Meyer, July 8, 2011 – Published at

Meeting in Bellevue, the bishops take a firmer line on physician-assisted aid-in-dying laws and make allegations about abuses that are not supported by the experience in Oregon and Washington.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ policy on physician-assisted suicide, approved at their national meeting in Bellevue last month , is the latest move by Roman Catholic leaders to intervene in Americans’ personal health care decisions.

The eight-page policy, which the bishops passed 191-1 at their annual spring meeting, is full of inaccurate and misleading statements about the Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Oregon and the policy positions of the laws’ supporters. It ignores 14 years of experience in Oregon and two years in Washington. The head of Compassion & Choices, the main group supporting those laws, criticized the bishops’ policy statement as “full of reckless, unsubstantiated accusations.”

The bishops’ statement warns that the voter-approved Death with Dignity laws — which allow terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients to receive medications from their doctor to end their lives — essentially legalize murder. And it makes the stunning claim that U.S. leaders of the Death with Dignity movement in effect advocate ending the lives of people who have not sought help in dying.

“A society that devalues some people’s lives, by hastening and facilitating their deaths, will ultimately lose respect for their other rights and freedoms,” the bishops said. “Taking life in the name of compassion also invites a slippery slope toward ending the lives of people with non-terminal conditions.”

The new policy, “To Live Each Day with Dignity,” is the U.S. church’s first official policy on aid-in-dying, which also is legal in Montana under a 2009 Montana Supreme Court ruling. The policy follows increasingly aggressive efforts by the bishops to require Catholic health care facilities and providers to insert and maintain feeding and hydration tubes in terminally ill patients — even those who have written advance directives stating they don’t want them.

The bishops also have cracked down on Catholic hospitals that performed tube-tying operations for women who are not going to have more babies. Last year, a bishop expelled St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Ore., a century-old hospital founded by nuns, from his diocese for refusing to stop performing tubal ligations.

These policies matter because the bishops oversee more than 600 Catholic hospitals and hundreds of Catholic nursing homes, assisted living centers, and hospices.

Some Catholic ethicists and administrators in Catholic health facilities have expressed concerns about the bishops’ aggressive new mandates. One worried Catholic hospital administrator who didn’t want to be named criticized the bishops’ 2009 ethical and religious directive requiring Catholic health facilities to provide feeding and hydration tubes to patients with chronic and irreversible conditions — including persistent vegetative state, massive stroke, and advanced Alzheimer’s disease. The administrator told me the directive is a “slippery slope” that could lead to widening disregard for patients’ end-of-life wishes.

But there is growing pressure on everyone within the Catholic establishment to hew to the party line. A new article in Crisis Magazine by Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly called out prominent theologians at four major Jesuit universities who have supported the physician-assisted suicide movement. These professors “have done more than betray the Catholic Church,” Reilly wrote. “When professors deny the truths of faith and disregard the common good — especially of those whose lives are snuffed out prematurely — they violate the mission of a Catholic university.”

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a national group that supports and monitors patients using the Death with Dignity laws, blasted the bishops’ statement on physician-assisted suicide and what she called the church’s McCarthyesque attack on Catholic dissenters. “It’s one thing to state your position based on your religious beliefs, and quite another to falsify, bully, sanction, lobby, and impose that religious belief on others,” she said in a written statement. “The bishops misstate our work, our beliefs, our mission and 14 years of Oregon experience with aid in dying. That experience shows better end-of-life care, more choice, and more peaceful deaths.”

The bishops’ statement on physician-assisted suicide claims leaders of the aid-in-dying movement support “ending the lives of people who never asked for death, whose lives they see as meaningless or as a costly burden on the community.” But the Washington and Oregon laws spearheaded by Compassion & Choices set out a detailed procedure allowing only terminally ill patients to ask a physician to prescribe the lethal medication; that doctor and a second doctor independently determine whether the patient likely has less than six months to live, is mentally competent, and made the request voluntarily.

At a June 15 news conference in Seattle, Coombs Lee stressed that Compassion & Choices opposes providing aid-in-dying to anyone who doesn’t meet the legal criteria. “A bright line separates assisting suicide, which is a felony, from the medical practice of aid in dying,” she said. “To blur that line does a grave disservice to terminally ill patients.”

The bishops also claim that people with chronic illnesses or disabilities which are life-threatening only if they don’t receive treatment could qualify for lethal prescriptions under the Death with Dignity laws. “Thus the bias of many able-bodied people against the value of life for someone with an illness or disability is embodied in official policy,” they said.

There’s no evidence for that assertion. The Oregon and Washington laws define a qualifying terminal disease as “incurable and irreversible.” Dr. Tom Preston, medical director of Compassion & Choices of Washington, said Compassion & Choices would never consider working with patients whose condition could be reversed or effectively treated except to advise them they didn’t qualify under the law.

Another unfounded argument by the bishops is that offering terminally ill patients the option of assisted suicide undermines effective pain management and palliative and hospice care. In fact, studies show that the overall use of hospice care increased in Oregon to one of the highest rates in the country after the Death with Dignity law took effect in 1998. In Washington and Oregon, more than 80 percent of patients who received lethal prescriptions and died in 2010 were enrolled in hospice — far higher than hospice participation rates nationally. “We insist on good comfort care,” Preston said.

The bishops further contend that terminally ill people seeking aid in dying commonly suffer from mental illness such as depression, and that Death with Dignity laws and proposals ignore this issue. “Even a finding of mental illness or depression does not necessarily prevent prescribing the [lethal] drugs,” they said.

Supporters of aid in dying do worry about clinically depressed patients receiving lethal prescriptions. But Dr. Linda Ganzini, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University who has consulted on dozens of Death with Dignity cases and has studied the issue, told me her experience is that most people who want assisted suicide do not have depression or another mental health condition that would affect their decision. And if either of the two physicians who independently evaluates each patient’s eligibility thinks there is a possible mental health issue, that doctor must order a psychological evaluation. Under the Oregon and Washington laws, patients cannot receive a lethal prescription if their judgment is found to be impaired.

Finally, the bishops argue that dying patients’ pain can be alleviated through competent medical care, freeing them to focus on “the unfinished business of their lives, to arrive at a sense of peace with God, with loved ones, and with themselves.” In contrast, they said, assisted suicide “results in suffering for those left behind — grieving families and friends, and other vulnerable people who may be influenced by this event to see death as an escape.”

But Tony Rizzo of Puyallup, a self-identified Roman Catholic, said he “respectfully disagrees” with the bishops based on his and his wife Joyce’s experience at the end of her three-year battle with cancer. At Compassion’s June 15 news conference, Rizzo described how his wife of 43 years was suffering “excruciating” pain, despite her pain medication. She asked for and received a lethal prescription under the Death with Dignity law, and used it to end her life last September.

“Joyce was facing a painful and difficult death, and there was absolutely no hope,” he said through tears. “She obtained the peaceful, dignified death she desired. The whole family supported her decision. I shudder to think of the pain she would have experienced without the medication and without that choice, which the bishops would deny her.”

It would appear that the bishops need to take off their black robes, visit a hospice or hospital ICU, and silently watch and listen to expert staff work with terminally ill patients.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


David Cobb 4-13-10Image by Doctress Neutopia via Flickr"The greatest power of the mass media is the power to ignore. The worst thing about this power is that you may not even know it's being used." - Sam Smith

Was there ANY media coverage of the amazing, rousing, inspiring talk by David Cobb at the IKE BOX last month?

Cobb, a former presidential candidate for the Green Party, is barnstorming the country for Move to Amend, the great outfit that is not just wailing about the corruption and takeover of America by the special interests but that also has a simple, clear, and reasonable plan to fix it:

Get corporations back out of the Constitution, so that real people can again run things (rather than the collections of money known as corporations that are running things now)
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Absolutely do not miss the Oregon State Fair this year for this alone.

Some of the most beautiful and yet most haunting, lump-in-your-throat, art seen in years will be available to us this year at the Oregon State Fair. August 26-Sept. 5.

DO NOT MISS THIS. Every child under the age of 90 needs to see and ponder these haunting art installations.

We went to Newport to see it at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and it has stayed with me since
. There has not been a day gone by that I have not thought about that sad and poignant exhibit. And now we have the opportunity to see it here in Salem.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Before the pixels were even dry

The City's of Salem's Urban Development Quarterly puffery gazette included this as the top feature story in the most recent issue:

Vol 7, Issue 2, UDQ
Date: July 1, 2011 3:48:47 PM PDT


SeaPort Airlines began serving Salem on April 25. SeaPort operates eleven weekly round trips between Salem and Portland with connecting flights to Seattle, WA and Pendleton, OR. For more information, go to

But, scant days later, reality insists on breaking through. Ruh-roh!

Report shows SeaPort ticket sales were inadequate

. . . Last week, the airline announced it would not live up to a six-month agree for free use of the Salem Airport and would cancel flights starting July 17.

SeaPort president Rob McKinney said in April that flights would need to average three passengers per flight. The city reports flights averaged just 2.1. . . .

The bottom line is that no airline is or can be set up to cope with the future of energy prices. Air travel is the least efficient mode possible, and mass air travel is an artifact of the cheap energy blowout, recently concluded.

Now, average energy prices will destroy airlines year after year, with sharp volatile swings sometimes concealing and sometimes revealing a general, inexorably rising trend. The best thing to do with Salem's airport is to privatize it. Get the city out of it entirely and let the flight-dependent businesses pay taxes on what is being turned into a private facility for their use.

Instead, the city now proposes squandering of even MORE millions of taxpayer dollars on extending the runway in Salem -- even as downtown Salem is becoming quite noticeably pockmarked with vacant storefronts and more and more homeless haunt the street corners with their signs. Good going, folks! There's nothing quite like a $10 million runway extension or another $5 million poured down a drain to expand passenger and baggage handling capacity to really communicate total cluelessness about what our energy future portends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do or Die for community radio in Salem

If you want a locally-owned and run, community-powered, non-corporate radio station here in the Mid-Valley, better act now.

KMUZ has to either get on the air or lose the construction permit (that leads to a broadcast license) that they have worked so hard to get and fund. Get over there and help if you share the vision. Or resign yourself to the increasingly corporate-dominated KOPB.

Time Travel: Historic Oregon Newspapers digitized and available for you

Oregonian Building, in Portland, Oregon.Image via WikipediaJason Stone of the University of Oregon will provide information on the new
Historic Oregon Newspapers database on:

7 p.m., Tuesday, July 19,
Anderson Room B at Salem Public Library,
585 Liberty St SE.

Historic Oregon Newspapers is the culmination of more than two years’ work by staff at the University of Oregon Libraries, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a number of state agencies and stakeholders.

Anyone interested in Oregon history will be pleased to learn of the launch of the University of Oregon’s Historic Oregon Newspapers website. Through this new internet resource, the public has unprecedented access to “first draft” historical materials originally published by Oregon journalists between 1846 and 1922.

The website includes more than 180,000 pages of digital content drawn from historic newspapers that include the Salem Capital Journal and the Portland Oregonian.

This presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Information/Reference Desk at 503-588-6052, or visit the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project’s website.

Visit Salem Public Library website.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oh, is hacking into emails a crime?

All the furor about Rupert (Sauron) Murdoch's latest crimes reminds a few of us what a phony tempest "Climategate" was . . . As Bob Park notes:

Two years ago, e-mail files of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were hacked and selectively posted on the web. Rupert Murdoch newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, expressed shock at the "criminal conspiracy" and "scientific blacklisting." The "gate" suffix was added to invite comparison with the infamous break-in at the Watergate by Nixon's goons, but the climategate burglars were treated as heroes. There was not one line of criticism about the only criminal offense in the whole sordid climategate affair of hacking into private files. It is ironic that hacking by the Murdoch papers is now threatening the Murdoch empire.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"We'll give you something to cry about now, buddy"

So, some interesting responses after a post about Salem's bizarre system of mailing expensive printed-on-expensive-paper and expensively mailed (at nearly 7/9ths full first-class postage) non-bills to those of us who are paying our water and sewer bills via auto-debit every month.

First, the day after that post, LOVESalem HQ got another bill, for seemingly the very same ending date but stretching back into April -- no reason given for a second bill, the overlap, the different amounts on each, or even a note to say that I will not be getting charged twice. Nothing but "here, we'll be taking this." Naturally it also came with another wasted #10 reply envelope to throw away, along with the waste envelope it came in and the bill itself.

Maybe I'll get one for $70 after this post . . .

And then there's this from the assistant city manager, Sean O'Day, who is a very nice guy but who seems to have been listening to the IT Dept. whinge about "It's too haaaaaaaaaaard" for too long:
Thanks for sharing your views. By law we are required to provide a billing statement (even for those with automatic payment) and I understand your point to be that we should do so electronically. We agree, and this is something that staff has been working towards. Although electronic billing sounds easy, it is not as simple as it might seem given our current billing infrastructure. Nonetheless, we continue to work towards electronic billing because the City is indeed committed to both sustainable practices as well as keeping our operating costs as low as we possibly can for our residents.
Sorry, Sean, not good enough. Governments all over the world have been singing that song about why this and that stupid thing has to remain stupid because fixing it would require a massive overhaul of the computer system forever, and it doesn't fly any more.

In this day of Mac Minis more powerful than the mainframes of yore, telling me your computer is too stupid to print a bill to a pdf file and email that to a citizen's email address is the same as telling me that you have way too much deadwood in the IT dept and you need to clean house there and hire some high-schoolers.

If necessary, hold a contest to get it done. Go to Borderlands, tell the first five geeks you see that winner gets a case of beer, a case of Twinkies, and three decks of "Magic" cards for the first one to write an app that would allow any Salem citizen to manage the format of all their city communications using their cell phones. The law says you have to provide a billing statement. The law does not say you have to waste my money to do it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mark your calendar for Rythm at the Mill, Sunday afternoons

Looks like a very nice concert series coming up at Mission Mill starting July 24 and continuing July 31, August 7 and 28, and wrapping up Sept. 11, with all shows starting at 2 p.m., just $5 for Willamette Heritage Center members, $10 for non-members.

It's good to see these dates at that lovely venue -- it's difficult to keep a place fixed in an earlier time without making it a place people forget to make time for. Come check them out. They'll let you bring your comfy lawn chair and sell you some good local brews -- what better way to while away a summer Sunday afternoon?

Monday, July 4, 2011

No city actually serious about sustainability would do this

Salem's official flirtation with sustainability -- or at least the language of sustainability -- is one of those mixed bags.

On the one hand, it's basically at least a micro-step in the right direction. Anyone who really engages with the concept of what it means to be sustainable -- living so that the life chances and choices of people in the future are not degraded as a result of your own choices -- quickly recognizes how vastly different that would be from our automobile-dominated world and our foolish thoughts that we can continue "growth" forever.

The downside is that, once you start stamping a corporate style logo about sustainability everywhere and congratulating yourself for merely having gassed about it in enough big meetings, you make people who are actually concerned about it crazy when you do things like:

  • Allowing corporations to spam doorsteps with littervertising, like the weekly coupon dump that the Statesman-Journal spews out each week, and the tons and tons and tons of worthless "yellow pages" that get vomited all over town each year, only to go directly into recycle bins;

  • Willfully acting irrationally and wastefully as a government, showing that you really have no clue about sustainability or even smart governance.

    Case in point:

    Each month for three years now, the City of Salem has spent 34 cents to send me

    (A) a paper bill every month that is marked "DO NOT PAY" (because I have my water and sewer/stormwater bill automatically debited from my checking account)

    (B) Another piece of blue paper begging me to give a little extra money for people who have problems with their bills,

    (C) AND a spanking new return envelope.

    (D) In a business envelope.

    Every month, the entire thing goes straight into the recycling.

    In other words, even as budget troubles force Salem to cut back on essential services, there is apparently nobody in the entire city bureaucracy who both cares enough and is sentient enough to ask "Hey, if we're going to be all hot for sustainability, why don't we stop wasting money by letting the people who auto-pay their utility bills to opt-out of the paper bill?"
The real trouble with this kind of nonsense isn't just the huge wastes it represents.

It's also that it absolutely demolishes your credibility as far as concern for the environment, concern for smart use of the taxpayers' money, and concern for organization credibility.

That's a lot of damage from a single, stupid mailing each month, but there it is.

On the other hand, once in a while, when I'm in full rant mode about this, someone says "Hey, ease up, it's just a stupid little thing, don't get so upset."

Naturally, this about doubles my rpm, because if it's such a little thing, then why isn't it fixed yet? Why do I have to keep posting this same damn rant every year? There are so many easy ways this could be fixed, and the fact that it isn't just says volumes about Salem's priorities. We have a whole city agency devoted to the fantasy of bringing airlines to Salem, but we're not even smart enough not to pour money down the drain mailing non-bills to people who don't want them and don't need them. Pitiful.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A second, urgently needed Declaration of Independence for a new time

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Human Beings of the United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for humans to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • That to secure these rights, humans institute governments among themselves, which derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
  • That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

  • Such has been the patient sufferance of the humans living in the nation born of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present United States, Inc. is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny of corporations over the humans in these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • The Corporations have refused to suffer the passage of critical laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  • The Corporations have has forbidden governors and would-be human overseers to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till corporate lobbyists' can eviscerate them them entirely; and when unable to defeat such laws through outright bribery in campaign finance, have utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • The Corporations have refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • The Corporations have called together legislative and judicial bodies at places unusual, fantastically opulent and comfortable, and exceedingly distant from the media who might create public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into complete ignorance about their measures.
  • The Corporations have improved their methods over the clumsy ones used by prior tyrants, for instead of dissolving representative houses repeatedly, the corporations permit them to exist, while drowning any authentic human representatives in campaign contributions, negative advertising, and phony "Astro-Turf" psuedo-grassroots campaigns, all designed to further invasions on the rights of the people.
  • The Corporations have refused for a long time, to permit any but corporate vassals to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have been captured by the Corporations and used against the people at large; the state remaining thus exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • The Corporations have endeavored to prevent the creation of unions by the human population of these states; for that purpose shipping entire factories overseas to destroy the livelihood of the humans here, while obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of work that would create jobs.
  • The Corporations have obstructed the administration of justice, by a decades-long campaign to gut the independent judiciary and to appoint only those judges and justices who will not question the Corporation's capture of the judiciary powers.
  • The Corporations have wielded campaign funds in the billions to make judges dependent on their will alone, for their ability to hold any tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • The Corporations have erected a multitude of new "public-private partnerships," and sent hither swarms of semi-private police forces and prison companies to harass our people, and eat out their substance through public subsidies.
  • The Corporations have kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of humans, by buying Congress.
  • The Corporations have affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power through such criminal conspiracies in corporate form as Xe (formerly Blackwater) and other monstrosities.
  • The Corporations have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws known as the World Trade Organization, devoted to the immiseration of humans and the enshrinement of corporate control throughout the world; giving their assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us and in thousands of bases overseas, turning actual Americans into corporate mercenaries:
  • For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states (see, Xe/Blackwater, Halliburton/KBR, and the entire CIA):
  • For cutting off our human right to travel to and meet with people in all parts of the world:
  • For imposing taxes on us without our consent by ruthlessly and criminally evading taxes while demanding unceasing public subsidies:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury by turning the former Supreme Court into Supreme Court, Inc., hostile to all but corporate interests:
  • For countenancing the practice transporting humans suspected of terrorism beyond seas to hell-holes like Bagram and Guantanamo be tried or not:
  • For abolishing the free system of American laws throughout the nation, establishing therein an arbitrary government:
  • For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
  • For usurping the power of our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

The Corporations have abdicated government here, by declaring us second class citizens to themselves and waging war against us.

The Corporations have plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, destroyed our environment, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

The Corporations are at this time contracting for the funding, training, and equipping large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of a civilized nation. (See, bin-Ladin, Osama, & the CIA)

The Corporations have promoted the impoverishment of the people such that they fight against unions and become the executioners of their friends and brethren.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our corporate brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their boards of directors and CEOs to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common human kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the humans of these United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people, solemnly publish and declare, that we humans are, and of right ought to be free and independent of corporate control over our institutions; that we are absolved from all allegiance to absurd and abominable doctrine of corporate personhood, and that all political power residing in corporations, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent humans, we again have full power to govern ourselves as free peoples, free of interference from the fictional persons known as corporations, who must and shall be returned to their rightful status as legal conveniences for managing property only, with limited charters and without any of the rights of persons to participate in political affairs.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Clean out your old linens and head to Marion-Polk Food Share this Saturday!

Maybe the most-important nonprofit organization in Salem, Marion-Polk Food Share, has teamed up with Sunnyside Organics and Women Ending Hunger to bring us a plant sale this coming Saturday, July 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Go find those old sheets and fabric odds and ends you're saving for "someday" and turn them into something useful now by bringing them with you to the sale, where you'll not only see beautiful plants that are perfect for transplanting, you'll also be rewarded with a free 4" herb start.