Monday, November 24, 2014

Reminder: Transportation in the Next American City TOMORROW

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

From: Strong Towns <>
Subject: Reminder: Transportation in the Next American City TOMORROW

Strong Towns

Strong Towns

Tomorrow, November 25 is our next Strong Towns webinar. As you may have seen over social media and the blog, we have a new presentation and initiative called Transportation in the Next American City. It has been in beta test over the last two months and now we want your feedback. See the overview description below. We will start at 12:00 PM Central Time. To participate, simply log in to the Webinar portal on the member site.

Transportation in the Next American City

When: 12PM Central Time - November 25

Where: Click here to login

You must be a member to attend so, if you haven't signed up, now is a great time. We are chipping away at our goal of 324 more members by the end of the year - we're down to just 248 left. Join today and help us while getting a little something in the return.

Can't make it Tuesday? We'll be recording it and making that available on the Strong Towns Membership platform at after the webinar. Visit the webinar portal page via the link in the right sidebar.


Overview: For more than six decades, local governments have been accustomed to building new transportation infrastructure, expanding existing systems in addition to constructing completely new facilities. While liabilities have grown, transportation funding has not kept up. Now there is a desperate need for local governments to shift from building to maintaining, from an approach that emphasizes expansion to one where we mature our use of existing investments. In difficult economic times, this is a scary, but necessary, realignment.

Topics Covered: 

  • A brief history of how we arrived at the current set of problems, particularly how centralization and an abundance of funding created short-term efficiencies but has stifled the development of alternative approaches.
  • Identification of the reasons why local governments find themselves stuck in the current paradigm and strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
  • The important difference between a road and a street and how to get the most out of each.
  • How to productively respond to congestion and safety problems within an urban environment.
  • The role of state and federal funding in local transportation decisions. How to get the most out of these funding sources without compromising the financial health of the community.
  • Dealing with resistance to change from public safety and maintenance staff.
  • The role of transit in creating a balanced portfolio of transportation options.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Marion-Polk Food Share’s Youth Farm in Salem, Oregon [feedly]

MPLAS makes the news

Marion-Polk Food Share's Youth Farm in Salem, Oregon
// City Farmer News

Real Dirt
November 2014

The Youth Farm is a collaborative educational project of the Marion-Polk Food Share and OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program that is aimed at increasing the quality, diversity, and stability of local food systems. Located in the heart of Salem on the Oregon School for the Deaf campus,

our two acre Youth Farm engages secondary school students in running a small farm business and develops a new generation of farmers and activists committed to providing access to healthy, fresh food for all members of our community.

Read the complete article here.


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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Conservation is self-preservation - Thos. Friedman

A black elephant, explained the London-based investor and environmentalist Adam Sweidan, is a cross between "a black swan" (an unlikely, unexpected event with enormous ramifications) and the "elephant in the room" (a problem that is visible to everyone, yet no one still wants to address it) even though we know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like consequences.

"Currently," said Sweidan, "there are a herd of environmental black elephants gathering out there" — global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, mass extinction and massive fresh water pollution. "When they hit, we'll claim they were black swans no one could have predicted, but, in fact, they are black elephants, very visible right now." We're just not dealing with them at the scale necessary. If they all stampede at once, watch out.


It starts with a simple fact: Protected forests, marine sanctuaries and national parks are not zoos, not just places to see nature. "They are the basic life support systems" that provide the clean air and water, food, fisheries, recreation, stable temperatures and natural coastal protections "that sustain us humans," said Russ Mittermeier, one of the world's leading primatologists who was here.

That's why "conservation is self-preservation," says Adrian Steirn, the South Africa-based photographer who spoke here. Every dollar we invest in protecting natural systems earns or saves multiple dollars back. Ask the people of São Paulo, Brazil. They deforested hillsides, destroyed their watersheds, and now that they're in prolonged drought, they're running out of water, losing thousands of jobs a month. Watch that story.

Walking around the exhibit halls here, I was hit with the reality that what we call "parks" are really the heart, lungs, and circulatory systems of the world — and they're all endangered.


John Gross, an ecologist with the U.S. National Park Service, who has worked in Yellowstone for 20 years, uses a NASA simulation to show me how the average temperature in Yellowstone has been rising and the impact this is having on the snowpack, which is now melting earlier each spring, meaning more water loss through evaporation and rapid runoff, lengthening the fire season. But, hey, it's just a park, right?

People forget: Yellowstone National Park is "the major source of water for both the Yellowstone and the Snake Rivers," said Gross. "Millions of people" — farmers, ranchers and communities — "need those two rivers." Yellowstone's snowpack is their water tower, and its forest their water filters. Its integrity really matters. What happens in Yellowstone, doesn't stay in Yellowstone.


Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica's former minister of environment and energy and now a vice president of Conservation International, explains to me the politics of parks — and the difference between countries that have their forest service under the minister of agriculture and those where the forest service is under the minister of environment or independent. Agriculture ministers see natural forests and parks "as timber that should be chopped down for something 'productive,' like soybeans, cattle or oil palm," said Rodríguez. Forest services and environment ministers "see their forests as carbon stocks, biodiversity reservoirs, water factories, food production plants, climate adaptation machines and tourism sites," and protect them.

Guess who's in the first group? Honduras and Guatemala, where many people live on degraded hillsides. Some 50,000 children have been sent from Central America to the U.S. this year — unaccompanied. Where did they come from? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, Central America's most deforested states. They cut their forests; we got their kids.

. . .

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Great stuff: Neil Young starts Starbucks boycott over GMO suit

Many great options in Salem for staying caffeinated while joining in.  Let your favorite Starbucks know why you won't be shopping with them any more until they wise up.

November 20, 2014

Neil Young starts Starbucks boycott over GMO suit

Rolling Stone - Neil Young is seeking a new source for his daily latte. The rocker announced on his website this week that he's boycotting Starbucks over the coffee company's involvement in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont's new requirements to label genetically modified ingredients.

"I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one," Young wrote. "Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling."

Vermont passed a law last spring that requires all food products containing GMOs to be labeled as such by July 1, 2016, with the exception of dairy products, meat, alcohol and food served in restaurants. Shortly afterward, four food industry organizations filed a lawsuit against the state that challenged the law's constitutionality...

"Monsanto might not care what we think -- but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does," Young wrote. "If we can generate enough attention, we can push Starbucks to withdraw its support for the lawsuit, and then pressure other companies to do the same."

"Considering that Starbucks has been progressive on LGBT and labor issues in the past, it's disappointing that it is working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto," he continued.

"There's much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling. Dozens of other states have said that they will follow this path -- in order to encourage this, we need to ensure that Vermont's law stands strong.

Highly relevant for Mid-Valley: How Climate Change Will End Wine As We Know It

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rally for Realism at the "Funding Workshop" for the Bridgasaurus Boondogglus 12/3 at 3!

Dear NO 3rd Bridge Supporters:
After six years of scrupulously avoiding the subject, the Salem River Crossing Oversight Team is finally getting around to a serious consideration of how to fund the half billion dollar project. You can observe the proceedings, and we hope you will plan to do so.

The Salem River Crossing Funding Workshop will be held on December 3rd from 3 to 6 pm at the Dye House at the Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill Street. Elected officials and senior staff from local governments in Marion and Polk County have been invited, as have "business leaders" and "interested individuals" (including NO 3rd Bridge!). 

If you did not receive an invitation to participate, you can still come and hear the information about possible funding strategies and observe the proceedings. It is important that you do. The participants need to see that their deliberations are being closely scrutinized by the public. If you can't get there at 3 pm, please come when you can. In fact, the last hour will probably be the most interesting.

The workshop participants will be discussing property tax increases, tolls on the Marion and Center Street bridges, a local gas tax and vehicle registration surcharges, among other funding strategies. One SRC Oversight Team member, Commissioner Craig Pope from Polk County, has already stated at a Salem City Council meeting recently that he is NOT looking forward to the funding workshop. That means it will be very interesting and maybe even entertaining.

Please plan to come. If you are on Facebook you can go to our Facebook page and indicate that you plan to come.

We'll hope to see you there.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Monday, November 17, 2014

LWV Corvallis: "Combating Climate Change: Will a Carbon Tax Fly in Oregon?" Nov. 20 Public Forum

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Subject: LWV Corvallis Presents "Combating Climate Change: Will a Carbon Tax Fly in Oregon?" Nov. 20 Public Forum

Invest in Congresscritters, the returns are terrific

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

They got more than the nation's Social Security recipients!

Sunlight Foundation
"Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America's most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support. That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation's 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give? Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no. Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after."


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Frederick Douglass

How climate chaos will disrupt health care systems

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."
Climate Risk: What It Means For Oregon's Health Care Sectors
From 8:00 AM until 11:30 AM on Friday, November 21st, Oregon's health professionals will have a critical conversation: What does climate risk mean for Oregon's health and health care sectors? How can we prepare for exacerbated health conditions, extreme weather disaster, supply chain disruption and infrastructure challenges?

Don't miss Lillian Shirley from the Oregon Health Authority presenting the 2014 Oregon Climate and Health Profile. Jon Utech's keynote address will share insights on the Cleveland Clinic's extraordinary commitment to sustainability. Oregon's own public and private health care leaders will also discuss forward-thinking strategies to address climate change impacts.

Climate Risk: What it means for Oregon's health care sectors
When: November 21, 8:00 – 11:30 AM (Registration begins at 7:30 AM. Breakfast will be served at 8:00 AM. Program begins at 8:15 AM)
Where: World Trade Center, 121 SW Salmon St, #2, Portland, OR
Cost: $20/$15 for OEC members

This forum is convened by sponsors Moda Health and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon in partnership with Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Environmental Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, American Lung Association Oregon Chapter and Health Care Without Harm.

Easy Living

"We're under some gross misconception that we're a good species, going somewhere important, and that at the last minute we'll correct our errors and God will smile on us. It's delusion."

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chamber of the 1% demands that Salem raise taxes, ignore risks

ODOT has finally made clear that Salem's biggest cross-river need is to upgrade and strengthen the existing two bridges so they will survive the looming Cascadia subduction zone quake that could reach or exceed magnitude 9.0, sending buildings (schools, offices, hospitals) and bridges into collapse all over the Northwest.

Characteristically, rather than support the most sensible option for response, Salem's sprawl lobby, led by the Chamber of the 1%, says that we should squander hundreds of millions more than the upgrade would cost by building a gargantuan new 3rd Bridge a mile north of the existing two bridges, which are at the only logical spot in the river, where it narrows to its minimum distance.

Worst of all, this Bridgasaurus Boondogglus would be much more costly than upgrades to existing bridges because it would one of the longest spans in Oregon, passing through zones where the soils will have the consistency of chocolate milk during the big quake. That's why it would take hundreds of dollars a year from every Salem household for decades to fund this absurdity.

The bottom line is that the Chamber has completely discredited itself on any fiscal matters, proving that their only measuring stick for ideas is how much money their members can make on them.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."
> It's official. ODOT predicts that in the magnitude 9.0 Cascadia megaquake, the Marion and Center Street bridges will collapse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thursday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Be there! Grand Theatre, High St at Court St


Thursday, November 13th --7 PM


"Citizen Koch"

With the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling opening the floodgates for unlimited political spending, it's now easier than ever to buy an election. But what happens when the voters realize that the billionaires and corporations doing the buying do not have the people's best interests at heart? This question is at the core of CITIZEN KOCH, the new documentary from the Academy Award®-nominated directors of Trouble the Water, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin.


The filmmakers break down the politically-motivated maneuvering behind the Supreme Court case that changed the way our democracy works, making way for the 2010 midterm elections that ushered in a new wave of ultraconservative Tea Party politicians. The Tea Party positioned itself as a citizen-powered, homegrown movement borne from sheer patriotism, but was actually one of the most well-funded and corporately-orchestrated political operations in history. Republicans capitalized on this new era with huge gains not just in Washington, DC, but across the country.




Guest Speakers:


David Delk

President, Alliance for Democracy


Kate Titus

Executive Director, Common Cause, Oregon


 Become an Individual Supporter of SPFS

Help support the Salem Progressive Film Series.


Your financial contribution will allow us to bring high quality films and expert speakers to Salem. 


Not only will you have personal satisfaction, but you will also be helping to strengthen our community. And your donation is tax deductible.


For only $65, we will mail you a pass for all 9 films, September through May. And, your name will appear as a supporter on our loop video. 

Mail your check to:

PO Box 13184

Salem, OR 97309


Thank you!




We are not just an audience. We are not passive witnesses, sitting in a dark theatre. Many of the documentaries that we bring to Salem can be difficult to watch, but sometimes it's what we need to jolt us into action. The goal of SPFS is that each and everyone of you can resonate with our films, and by working together with discipline and persistence, we can overturn unjust authority

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Monday, November 10, 2014

For those near Portland on Nov. 11

A fitting idea for Armistice Day, since climate chaos is likely to bring about wars and other scourges.

Why Warnings on Climate Spark Aggressive Denials [feedly]

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why environmentalists should oppose the Oregon "clean fuels" nonsense

A big story below, showing yet again that biofuels are expensive tax-wasting lies, aimed at propping up the liquid fuels paradigm and extending the reign of Big Oil.  

Contrary to the nonsense peddled by the captive "green" groups (who accuse anyone who notices that Emperor Biofuels is stark naked of being in the pocket of Big Oil) the reality is that Big Oil LOVES biofuels because they are useful to keep people fantasizing about the continuation of auto dominance a while longer, which helps keep people from realizing that the auto age is ending, which gives Big Oil even more time to milk the suckers before they all go broke.

Biofuels have no energetic advantage, no carbon advantage, and are basically just a system for laundering fossil fuels through a greenwash propaganda system fueled by insane public funds giveaways and tax subsidies. 

Morally biofuels are even worse than fossil fuels -- since biofuels combine all the environmental costs of fossil fuels plus the moral obscenity of making hungry people watch while land is taken out of food production use and turned over to agribusiness for production of motor fuel ... A fuel that is only really a phony fuel, since the net energy return over the fossil fuel inputs is infinitesimal.

The one downside to the Democratic victories in Oregon is that the Kitzhaber administration has been totally bamboozled or bought off by the biofuel propaganda and thinks they are worth pouring money into. Which explains why mainstream Oregon green groups are terrible on biofuels, ignoring science when it suits them just as the Rs do habitually.

KiOR in Default on Loan
// R-Squared Energy Blog

Update 4:30 PM PST: This afternoon KiOR filed a Form 8-K with the SEC. This form is used to notify investors of important material events. In the report, KiOR indicated that they had received a Notice of Default and Acceleration from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) notifying KiOR that all obligations are now due and payable within three (3) business days from November 3, 2014. This default accelerates KiOR's other loan obligations. In addition to the $78.6 million now payable to the MDA, KiOR says this default "accelerates the Company's obligations under the following debt agreements:"

  • Loan and Security Agreement, dated January 26, 2012, among the Company and each of 1538731 Alberta Ltd. as agent and lender, 1538716 Alberta Ltd. and KFT Trust, as amended on March 17, 2013, October 21, 2013 and March 31, 2014. As of November 3, 2014, an aggregate amount of approximately $127.8 million is immediately due and payable. As a result of the MDA Notice, the loan accrues an additional four percent (4%) per annum default interest rate.
  • Senior Secured Convertible Promissory Note Purchase Agreement, dated October 18, 2013, among the Company, KiOR Columbus, KV III, KFT Trust and VNK Management, LLC and KV III in its capacity as agent, as amended on October 20, 2013 and on March 31, 2014. As of November 3, 2014, an aggregate amount of approximately $95.7 million is immediately due and payable.
  • Senior Secured Convertible Promissory Note Purchase Agreement, dated March 31, 2014, as amended on July 3, 2014, among the Company, KiOR Columbus and KFT Trust and KFT Trust in its capacity as agent. As of November 3, 2014, an aggregate amount of approximately $10.4 million is immediately due and payable.

So KiOR now owes, immediately due and payable, over $312 million. On the plus side, the 8-K notes "KFT Trust made a Protective Advance to KiOR in the aggregate principal amount of $1,102,691." That is such a specific amount that I wonder if that might be the bill from the investment bank that has been shopping KiOR during the forbearance period.

My guess is that this now triggers a bankruptcy declaration next week.


During the administration of former Republican Governor Haley Barbour, the state of Mississippi provided a $75 million no-interest loan to advanced biofuel company KiOR (OTCMKTS: KIOR) to build a plant in that state. Last Friday KiOR was supposed to make a $1.875 million payment on the loan. The loan payment had been due at the end of June, but KiOR paid $250,000 for a 120-day reprieve to give them more time to explore options on selling or merging the company, which has had its plant in Mississippi idled all year. The loan originated with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), and they confirmed for me this morning that KiOR missed the October 31st deadline, and a three-day grace period on the loan had ended on Wednesday, November 5th with no payment. I spoke with the MDA this morning, and afterward they sent me the following written statement:

"As of today (November 7, 2014), KiOR has not made its loan payment. MDA is working closely with its counsel and financial advisors to evaluate all options with the intent of finding the best solutions for the state in regard to the KiOR Columbus project. MDA continues to assess any and all rights and remedies it has available and will provide updates once next steps are fully determined." -Marlo Dorsey, Chief Marketing Officer, Mississippi Development Authority

So what does this mean? It means that KiOR is now in default on the loan, and the MDA can legally seize the plant and demand the remaining balance of $69.4 million on the loan. This would allow KiOR's other lenders to demand immediate payment of the $250 million it owes them. KiOR acknowledged in their most recent Quarterly Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that this action would likely force the company to declare bankruptcy:

In the event of an acceleration of amounts due under its debt instruments as a result of an event of default, the Company will not have sufficient funds and does not expect to be able to arrange for additional financing to repay its indebtedness or to make any accelerated payments, and the lenders could seek to enforce their security interests in the collateral securing such indebtedness, in which case the Company will likely be forced to voluntarily seek protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Where does this leave the state of Mississippi? The ball is in their court, but the state is in a difficult position. Their best option was for the company to find a buyer so the loan from the state could be repaid. But KiOR presently owes $250 million, lists assets of only $58 million (and $50 million of that is for the plant that isn't running), and a market capitalization of under $5 million. It is also facing another $1.875 million payment at the end of next month. It is not surprising that in that financial condition the company didn't find a buyer during their 120-day forbearance. But if the state exercises their right to seize the plant, they are then in the position of trying to find a buyer or of selling the plant for scrap value (which will be less than $50 million).

The most recent precedent for this type of outcome is in the Range Fuels bankruptcy. Following more than $160 million in venture capital, a $76 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a $6.25 million grant from Georgia, and an $80 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Range Fuels was still unable to produce transportation fuel. They were forced to declare bankruptcy, and the plant was auctioned off to pay for part of its debts. The plant ultimately sold at auction for $5.1 million.

By defaulting and failing to negotiate additional time with the state of Mississippi — and allowing themselves to be delisted from the NASDAQ without a fight — it appears that KiOR is resigned to its fate. That fate presently lies in the hands of the state of Mississippi, which will seek the best possible outcome for taxpayers while trying to manage the political fallout which is sure to come.

What do I believe will happen? I still think bankruptcy is the most likely outcome given the company's relative debts and assets, and considering that the plant hasn't run all year and most of the employees have been let go. At this point they appear to have given up stalling for more time, and they would need to be extremely creative to craft a scenario in which they manage to avoid bankruptcy. Their only hope at this point is with the MDA deciding that forcing them into bankruptcy isn't the best scenario for Mississippi taxpayers.

Link to Original Article: KiOR in Default on Loan

By Robert Rapier. You can find me on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.


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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Minnesota judges say we must admit "we have a problem with race" in the criminal justice system [feedly]

Will Oregon follow suit? Other states?

Minnesota judges say we must admit "we have a problem with race" in the criminal justice system
// Sentencing Law and Policy

Kevin Burke, a Minnesota county district judge, has authored this provocative new commentary which was signed on to by a number of fellow judges. The piece is headlined "On race and justice system, we're still in denial," and here are excerpts:

Repeatedly, we have been confronted with compelling evidence that our community has a serious problem with racial disparity in its justice system.  Repeatedly, we have either said, "We can stop," or we get defensive and attack the messenger.  The time has come for us to change our response.

The recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU) on the racial disparities of arrests comes as no particular surprise ("ACLU: Blacks arrested more for minor crimes," Oct. 29).  Sure, you could write off the ACLU as some leftist organization — except that its report is based on hard data.  The ACLU's data and its analysis replicate numerous studies dating back decades about the problem of racial disparity in the justice system in our community....

[I]n 2007, the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime on Justice issued a report that found that "[t]he racial disparity in Minnesota's justice system is exceptionally high compared to other states. From arrest to imprisonment, the disparity is over twice the national average."  Since 2000, the report said, the Council on Crime and Justice "has undertaken seventeen separate studies in a comprehensive effort to understand 'why' such a large disparity exists here, in Minnesota."...

We need to accept we have a problem.  All of us have a right to be safe, but protecting the public and being racially fair are not mutually exclusive.  The ACLU report is interesting, in part, because it is not focused on "serious" or "violent" crime.  There is no legitimate reason why there is a vastly disproportionate arrest rate for young black people for possession of small amounts of marijuana or for loitering.

The justice system desperately needs the trust of the public.  Community policing is premised upon community support.  But before you conclude that this is a problem with the Minneapolis police — stop.  All of the police, prosecutors, defenders, corrections officials and the community at large own a piece of the mess.  And yes, so do the elected officials — including judges.  Every one of us in the justice system bears responsibility for this problem....

There is a connection between racial disparity in the justice system and what is happening in our community.  Child protection failures, racial disparity in low-level offenses, achievement gaps in school, and yes, even violent crime and gang problems are all related. The beginning of an end to these issues starts with a collective admission that we have a problem with race.

The solutions to our problem of racial disparity in the justice system may be as intractable as our failure to acknowledge the existence of the problem, but we have no choice other than to act.  At a minimum, we need to acknowledge the cumulative nature of racial disparities. Racial disparity often builds at each stage of the justice continuum, from arrest through release from prison.  And even then it does not stop.  Employment opportunities for ex-offenders are limited.  Hennepin County has a history of very good dialogue among the justice system participants, but in order to combat racial disparity, everyone needs to commit to a systematic approach.  Without a systemic approach to the problem, gains in one area may be offset by reversals in another....

Given the persistence of the problem of racial disparity in the justice system, however, a very good case can be made that reasoned experiments to find solutions are a better alternative than continually repeating what we are presently doing — and hoping for a different result.

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The Myth of Chinese Super Schools by Diane Ravitch | The New York Review of Books

Salem and Oregon seem to have fallen into the foolish "If you can test for success, then the more you test, the more your success" abyss, alas.

It's cargo cults everywhere you look these days, it seems -- people who never really understood the forces at work that produced the magical amounts of wealth in the first place, now madly seeking to replicate the symbols (effects) of that wealth that they confuse with its causes.

Diane Ravitch is a real gem.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

A great group of local heroes to be thankful for

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What better voting systems mean: Oakland mayoral race - "no big expenditures.. almost no negative ads"

We can have better elections in Oregon easily!
Ranked Choice Voting is already expressly ALLOWED in the Oregon Constitution!

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Outside Money Absent in Mayor's Race 

A recap of campaign spending shows that, unlike 2010, this year's mayoral election in Oakland was marked by no big expenditures by special interests and almost no negative ads.

By  @RobertGammon
click to enlargeOakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf.
  • Oakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf.

The 2010 Oakland mayoral campaign was awash in special interest money and big expenditures by outside groups attempting to influence the election. Two outside groups, also known as independent expenditure committees, spent more than $350,000 in total on behalf of then-candidates Don Perata and Rebecca Kaplan. Perata himself also spent nearly $900,000 trying to win the mayor's office — a record in Oakland politics. But 2014 was a completely different story in the city, with almost no large expenditures by outside groups. In fact, the only major special-interest spending occurred in two city council races and the city's school board contests.

The two candidates who received the most financial help from outside groups were Abel Guillen and Annie Campbell Washington, who were both seeking election to the Oakland City Council and were backed strongly by organized labor. Outside spending on behalf of Guillen totaled $108,928 prior to the election, and for Campbell Washington, it was $99,392. All of that money came from unions.

The big spending stemmed from the fact that both Guillen and Campbell Washington had trailed badly in the pre-election polls behind two candidates who were viewed as being unfriendly to labor. The polls showed Guillen well behind ex-TV anchor Dana King, while Campbell Washington was being trounced by Jill Broadhurst, who runs a landlords' group. Early in the campaign, both King and Broadhurst also enjoyed better name recognition among voters than Guillen and Campbell Washington — a fact that also raised serious concerns among union activists in Oakland.

The Alameda Labor Council, an umbrella organization that includes numerous East Bay unions, reported spending $89,107 each on Guillen and Campbell Washington in the campaign. The Oakland police officers union reported $10,285 worth of expenditures on behalf of Campbell Washington, while the Oakland firefighters union and the Teamsters joined together to spend $14,191 trying to elect Guillen. In addition, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) reported spending $5,000 on Guillen's behalf. King and Broadhurst, by contrast, received no help from outside groups, which was a bit of a surprise because both had been endorsed by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, which has a history of big spending in Oakland elections.

The large expenditures by labor also meant that Guillen and Campbell Washington were effectively able to outspend their opponents by a margin of more than 2-1. In their own campaigns, Guillen raised $100,444 compared to King's $85,098. And Campbell Washington received $103,022 compared to Broadhurst's $83,271.

The other big outside spending in the 2014 Oakland election occurred in the city's school board races. A political committee run by the nonprofit group Great Oakland Public Schools reported expenditures of nearly $100,000 on behalf of its three favored candidates: Renato Almanzor ($53,559), Nina Senn ($21,689), and Saleem Shakir-Gilmore ($21,666). The committee received much of its funds from charter school backers.

The Oakland mayor's race, by contrast, saw only a few small expenditures by outside groups this year, and almost no negative campaigning — a dramatic turnaround from 2010. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund reported spending $10,000 on behalf of Kaplan this year, while the IBEW reported spending $5,000 trying to reelect Mayor Jean Quan. The chamber, meanwhile, reported spending $10,446 on behalf of Bryan Parker.

A small group of donors calling themselves Citizens for Oakland reported spending a total of $34,000 attempting to elect Parker and fellow candidates Libby Schaaf and Joe Tuman, and to defeat Quan and Kaplan. It was the only outside spending on negative ads (against Quan and Kaplan) in the mayoral campaign. And finally, a group of marijuana-legalization supporters reported spending $1,330 each on behalf of Kaplan and Schaaf, who were viewed as being the two most pot-friendly mayoral candidates.

The 2010 campaign, by contrast, included huge amounts of spending on attack ads by an outside group called Coalition for a Safer California. The organization had strong links to Perata and spent a total of $137,000 in that campaign, mostly on hit pieces against Quan and Kaplan. The other big outside expenditure in that campaign came from the California Nurses Association and then-Hollywood producer Bryan Zuriff, who spent $214,000 on Kaplan's behalf.

The 2014 race was mostly a candidate-financed affair. Schaaf led all mayoral candidates, receiving a total of $422,248 in donations, followed closely by Quan, who raised $419,285 (Quan pumped $32,000 into her campaign in the final week). Parker raised the third highest amount of money among the major candidates in the race, totaling $392,902 (he injected $45,000 of his own money in the final days of the campaign). Tuman was next with $266,615, followed by Siegel with $206,784, and Ruby with $150,555. Lower-tier candidate Saied Karamooz loaned his own campaign $401,000, but then spent none of the money, according to his last pre-election campaign statement.

The relative lack of outside expenditures this year in Oakland's election also came in stark contrast to the huge amounts of money spent by Big Oil and Big Soda in Richmond and Berkeley, respectively. Chevron spent at least $3 million trying to elect its favored mayoral and council candidates (Nat Bates, Charles Ramsey, Donna Powers, and Al Martinez) and defeat the three progressive environmentalists (Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, and Eduardo Martinez) who were running for office. And in Berkeley, beverage companies spent at least $2.4 million trying to defeat Measure D, the soda tax.

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Rob Richie
Executive Director, FairVote  
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The stark difference between what poor babies and rich babies eat

The stark difference between what poor babies and rich babies eat - The Washington Post
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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Undernews: Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Undernews: Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Flotsam & Jetsam: Some ideas take a long time

Sam Smith - This election has special meaning for me in a couple of ways. It serves as an argument for patience and persistence in ways I sometimes almost given up on. First, DC will choose its first elected DA, something I started proposing along with DC statehood over 40 years ago. And in my current home state of Maine, there is an aggressive movement to put ranked choice voting on the ballot, a project that began with the forming of the indefatigable group, Fair Vote, in my then DC living room 22 years ago.

It's a point activists can easily miss out of frustration and impatience, something I noted in my book, Why Bother? 

Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, or the gay or lesbian writer of 1910.  They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it.

Knowing what we know now about how it's turned out, would we have been abolitionists in 1830?

Knowing what we know now would we have joined abolitionist and feminist Lydia Maria Child who recognized she would not live to see women's suffrage, but said that when it happened, "I'll come and rap at the ballot box?"

In 1848, 300 people gathered at Seneca Falls, NY, for a seminal moment in the American women's movement. They recorded a long list of grievances including the lack of access to higher education, the professions, and the pulpit; the lack of equal pay for equal work; the lack of property and child custody rights.

On November 2, 1920, 91 year-old Charlotte Woodward Pierce became the only signer of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions who had lived long enough to cast a ballot for president. Would we have attended that conference? Would we have bothered?

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."