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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."
From: Strong Towns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reminder: Transportation in the Next American City TOMORROW
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.
TRANSPORTATION IN THE NEXT AMERICAN CITY
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.
- 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.
Created with NationBuilder, the essential toolkit for leaders.
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.
"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."
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.
. . .
November 20, 2014
Neil Young starts Starbucks boycott over GMO suitRolling 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.
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.
Subject: LWV Corvallis Presents "Combating Climate Change: Will a Carbon Tax Fly in Oregon?" Nov. 20 Public Forum
"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
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.
Thursday, November 13th --7 PM
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.
President, Alliance for Democracy
Executive Director, Common Cause, Oregon
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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:"
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
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.
Executive Director, FairVote
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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?
not for the convenience of those who drive through them, fly over them, or exploit their real estate for profit.-- Ted Roszak, "Where the Wasteland Ends"
Jan 19, 2008: LOVESalem reaches the web, bringing a vitally needed message to Oregon's capital city: We must Oregon-ize to put the needs of people before the needs of cars. This requires that we live our environmental values -- that we LOVE (Live Our Values Environmentally) Salem -- by working to stop the Sprawl Machine.
The Sprawl Machine is a ravenous beast that feeds on green space, close-in neighborhoods, and property taxes and that excretes monstrous, ugly road projects that pollute the air, increase mortality and morbidity, promote climate change, weaken families and neighborhoods, and help weaken the social fabric and civic participation.
The Sprawl Machine works by constantly luring its prey with promises that the problems created by cars can be addressed by doing more of the same -- building more lanes, more bridges, consuming ever more money. In other words, the Sprawl Machine promises that we can keep doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result this time.
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