A past video I made interviewing Mitch Green:
The blog votesimivalley.com has started posting much more often. Blogger Mike Chandler has added guest columns by Mitch Green. Go read the page and give them feedback.
A past video I made interviewing Mitch Green:
The blog votesimivalley.com has started posting much more often. Blogger Mike Chandler has added guest columns by Mitch Green. Go read the page and give them feedback.
If you would like to write a guest blog entry send me an email. Publishing an entry doesn't show I agree or disagree with the views in it.
Here is a guest blog entry from Carmen Rivera:
America: The Global Capital of Crime, Forensics and Religious Resilience
Violent crimes are a notable problem within the United States, and figuring out how to reduce the amount of violent crime that takes place is a hotly debated topic. Forensic psychology schools and crime based TV shows litter American culture and though crime has gone down, it is still markedly high by global standards. Despite a 7% drop of the murder rate, there were still 7,586 incidents in 2008.
According to the FBI's official statistics, an estimated 1,246,248 violent crimes took place throughout the nation in 2010. This number actually represents a decrease of 6.0% from the 2009 statistics, however. Most of the violent crimes occurring in 2010 -- about 62.5% -- consisted of aggravated assaults, followed by robbery at 29.5%, forcible rape at 6.8%, and murder at 1.2%. Firearms were used in 67.5% of U.S. murders in 2010. They were also used in 41.4% of robberies and 20.6% of aggravated assaults.
Various churches and religious organizations are among the groups committed to the reduction of violent crime. Many of these church groups aim to minimize violent crime by changing the cultural mindset that promotes it, and some have already set up structures dedicated to thwarting the spread of violence within their communities.
Church groups that aim to help further reduce these rates typically do so by promoting a culture of peace over one of violence, while actively seeking out opportunities to help ease the spiritual and economic needs of community residents. For instance, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America specifically lists "enabling people to reclaim their violence-plagued communities, especially through community economic development" and "assisting those affected by poverty, racism, family instability, domestic violence, and unemployment as they seek to deal with these challenges" among their goals. Additionally, the ELCA seeks to educate children and adults about constructive ways to handle anger, provide counseling and similar services to those affected by violence, and minister to former criminals in a manner that allows them to to resume status as productive members of a peaceful, law abiding society.
The concern that church groups have about violent crime goes beyond mere goal-setting. Many churches have actually put programs and structures in place to actively help reduce violence within their own communities. A Pastoral Message from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops describes several Catholic anti-violence initiatives that have existed since the mid-1990s.
Among them is the Los Angeles "Hope in Youth" initiative that "works with others to combat gang violence with youth opportunities and economic development." Similarly, the diocese of Pittsburgh has worked alongside a community program for at risk youth that provides educational, recreational, and employment alternatives to gangs. Allthewhile, the Diocese of Cleveland has helped coordinate interfaith gun turn-in programs to help reduce the number of illegal firearms on the streets. And the "Building a Sacred Bridge of Reconciliation" program set up in the dioceses of Palm Beach and Billings addressed some of the attitudes and ideas responsible for domestic abuse.
Church programs like these may not fully eliminate violent crime in the United States, but they do help staunch some of violence on a community-by-community level. Moreover, they also provide a good model for how the rate of violent crime can be further reduced. Initiatives aimed at educating kids about the effects of violence can, in theory, stop some members of future generations from becoming perpetrators of violent crimes.
Programs designed to help individuals in economic distress can help reduce armed robberies and other related crimes. When these programs are aimed directly at getting former convicts back on their feet and stopping recidivism, they can also help reduce the number of individuals returning to prison. Lastly, efforts to bring faith into at risk communities can help decrease the sense of hopelessness that many members of those communities may feel, thereby encouraging them to press forward even in spite of the hardships they face that might otherwise prompt them to turn to lives of crime.
I publish guest blog entries from my readers. Here is the latest on the Ventura County Tea Party's opposition to parking meters:
(Photo Credit: Joseph A Garcia, VCStar -- http://www.vcstar.com/photos/2010/sep/04/106020/)
Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded - Yogi Berra
Is there a better way to sum up the parking meters in Downtown Ventura ("Parking Meter Opponents Change Measure Language", 3 Mar 2011)?
The so-called "Tea Party Activist" Carla Bonney says they are symbolic of too much government intrusion. And downtown merchant Gary Parker is apparently whining because he lost his free parking spot in front of his place of business.
As far as I can tell, the pay parking spots are frequently used. Isn't that the free market speaking, Ms. Bonney? And though there were some initial difficulties with the meters, they're easier to use than an ATM machine. We had friends from Orange County visit recently who were quite impressed at the convenience of adding time from any meter and the bargain price of parking in a bustling downtown steps from the beach. Moreover, I've rarely had a problem finding free parking. On other days, my family and I jump on a bike and cruise to downtown - there are plenty of ways to get there safely from just about anywhere in Ventura. We find that when we take the bikes, we end up spending more time and money patronizing the shops.
If folks have a problem paying for parking, ride a bike or use one of the free lots. Yes, both are less convenient (you get what you pay for) but the alternatives also yield some exercise and possibly some extra time in downtown. Everybody wins.
The money has already been spent for the meters and the program will eventually fund itself.
Now, can we focus on something of real importance, like funding our libraries and fire department or bringing more jobs to the City?
John Buccola is a Ventura resident
Send me an email if you would like to write a guest blog entry. Here is Doug Crosse on sewer rates:
Sanitation Rate Hike, it's like deja vu all over again
The Simi Valley City Council/ Sanitation Board wants to raise our rates over 19% making us pay an additional $7 million over the next five years. This is to pay for repair of the aging sanitation infrastructure to the tune of $36 million, so it's obvious we'll pay lots more after that.
This is a grievous example of poor planning. Even my small homeowners association has to put away money for future deferred maintenance requirements. Didn't the city know that this work would have to be done eventually? The writing was on the wall, couldn't they see it? Or were they speculating on "new connect fees" to help cover the costs and somehow are now somehow surprised by the drop revenue because no one's connecting anymore due to the four year old housing meltdown? Mayor pro tem Sojka called this rate increase scheme "pro-active". Excuse me? If this isn't reactive bad planning what is?
The only way to stop this by law is for over half the effected customers to write that they object, emails and calls don't count, before the June 20th hearing. That's not even enough time to mount a successful petition drive, especially since we cant identify the 44,000 customers. Our exceptional "new" Mayor Bob Huber was the only councilmember to object. He truly "gets it" and is really committed to the best interests of the people, so he called for a May 9 hearing. He believes that us folks ought to be allowed to vote on this in the June election.
Folks it's time to write city hall and protest in big numbers on 5/9. Perhaps we can convince the other four, who are singing the Wizard of Oz Scarecrow's song, to grant us permission to vote. Otherwise we just may have to remind them of a 1979 organization called CROC (Citizens for the Recall OF Councilpersons). It's like deja vu all over again.
I don't need to agree with your opinion to post it. That said, what questions do you have for Doug Crosse? You don't need to register to post a comment.
Sean McDermott has been giving me a hard time on my Facebook page for my blog. The advantages of commenting there include being able to fix typos and knowing who you are discussing issues with.
I don't agree with many of his views but I cannot accuse him of not being well-read. This guest blog entry is on bounded rationality. If you would like to write a guest blog entry send me an email.
Bounded Rationality By Sean McDermott
Bounded rationality is the economic theory, first posited by F. A. Hayek that society is made up of individuals, each with incomplete knowledge about everything. Specifically he is talking about an economic context of a market. These individuals with incomplete knowledge form a coherent price system that functions to transmit information quite efficiently, more so than any central planner or central planning body with "endless" amounts of information.
I'll discuss how this plays with respect to three actors; a producer, a retailer and a consumer. If a commodity is suddenly scarce, like a tomato during a drought, it's price will rise. The price of an individual tomato rises due to its scarcity relative to the all of the other tomatoes. If a producer is able to produce tomatoes during a drought, he will charge more. His tomatoes are now more valuable due to their scarcity. Also, when the retailer has less tomatoes to sell due to the diminished supply, but the same amount of demand he will increase the price of the tomato so as not to run out of his inventory too soon. The consumer of tomatoes who sees the increase in price will make one of two decisions; she'll either buy the pricier tomato or substitute it for another commodity that didn't go up in price.
In Ventura County example; Casey Houweling owns a multi-million dollar hothouse that hydroponically grows tomatoes in Oxnard. His hothouse gobbles up as much sun as possible, is immune to wind, captures rainwater, hosts its own bees for the dissemination of pollen and is very resistant to pests without using much (if any) pesticide. I'm barely scratching the surface, if you want to read all about just how cool the Houweling's hothouse is, you can check out the original articles I read here and here.
The Houweling hothouse is able to churn out regular, predictable amounts of tomatoes. The hothouse tomatoes are almost completely immune to droughts and recalls. The capitalist should be encouraged to make frugal investments in his agribusiness. Bounded rationality, as explained by F.A. Hayek allows for the shrewd entrepreneur to make a profit by serving his fellow man. The Houweling hothouse should be allowed to charge more for tomatoes in droughts, recalls (remember the recent salmonella recall?) and any other shortages. The Houweling's took the risks, they made the investments and they ought to benefit from their hard work, insight, agricultural talent and smarts.
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Update: Nevermind. Amanda agreed to take questions but hasn't responded.
I publish guest blog entries from my readers upon request. I don't need to agree with your opinion to publish your entry. Amanda emailed me and asked if I would post this entry on labor unions. I told her I would if she answered questions from readers. Click on continue reading to see my questions.
Talk of the labor movement's death have been greatly exaggerated by Amanda Tattersall
In last week's New Yorker, James Surowiecki has penned a pessimistic picture of unions in the US - declining numbers of union members and the lowest popular support for the labor movement on record. He makes the case that union demise in today's recessionary economy sits in contrast to the depression era, where the adventurous tactics of growing unions were widely applauded.
He argues that the lack of popular support for unions could be a death spiral: as the public's embrace of unions has consistently correlated with successful labor organizing, its absence could make a revival near impossible.
From a national perspective, despite hard working attempts to revitalize and grow unions, Surowiecki rightly points out that the statistics haven't improved. But the reports of the labor movement's death are greatly exaggerated: the statistics show the need for a dramatic change in direction for unions.
Unions need to end vested interest, narrow union claims and action - where unions act only for themselves and at the expense of public needs. As Surowiecki and others note, the political environment is presenting unions with an opportunity for something new. In the battles around public sector wages freezes and the school reform unions can do things differently.
They can take inspiration from the story of an Australian union who faced the same difficulties a decade ago. In the late 1990s, the school system was going through a reform process that included closing inner city schools. The union was struggling to respond - the Murdoch tabloid press was slaughtering the teachers union in its contract campaign.
Attacked as dunces, the union decided to change how it engaged with its members, the school community and the general public. Instead of just saying "no" to reforms, continuing to talk about teacher wages and defending the status quo, the union formed a coalition with parents and launched an independent inquiry into public education. The coalition hired an expert education professor as its inquiry head and then travelled the state for a year collecting stories from teachers, parents, school principals and the wider community about their frustrations with schools - and most importantly - their concrete suggestions for how to improve them.
The hearings turned into a series of reports and 92 policy solutions. These policies were then prioritized into 6 united demands identified by a coalition of teacher unions, parent and school principal organizations.
Cleverly, the inquiry and its reports were timetabled with the electoral cycle in mind. Hearings were held eighteen months out from the next election. The reports started being released six months before the election. Then the union - with its coalition of teachers and principals - took action to secure its reform vision for public education.
Instead of resisting government reforms, the union worked in coalition with community organizations to shift public opinion on the question of what school reforms were needed. The inquiry found classroom sizes to be a real concern, so they ran a campaign to reduce them for Kindergarten to Year Two children. They won. Both major political parties - the equivalents of Republicans and Democrats - endorsed a $250 million reform proposal in the lead up to the 2003 election.
Today, US unions will need a similar change in strategy in order to rise to the challenges they face. The scapegoating of public sector unions and attacks on social spending will require a community-wide response. Successful coalitions between unions and community organizations will be part of the solution. But, they are no magic bullet. Coalitions will need to be combined with a community-minded unionism that is prepared to think differently about how it contests public policy, how it takes public action and how it sets an agenda.
Community-minded unionism has been successful in US history and oversees. It is happening locally and regionally in the US. It is needed on a broad scale today.
A friend of mine, Omar Masry, asked me to post his comments about a proposed automall sign in Thousand Oaks. I don't have an opinion on this issue. Here is his guest blog entry:
The proposed Thousand Oaks Auto Dealers Freeway Monument sign design is simply lazy. I would hope the City Council would send this design back to the drawing board and maybe consider brushed aluminum and redwood paneling (think Apple store meets high-image sustainable corporate headquarters) with non-exposed LED lighting on storefront facades and freestanding 3D lettering for the freeway monument sign. This design would create a modern image that blends well with the woodsy heritage of Thousand Oaks.
The proposed sign appears out of scale and context with the surrounding area. I've always been particularly pleased by the transition for northbound drivers to the Conejo Valley as they pass the former GTE (current Baxter) building, which is so well contoured into a hillside. The proposed sign would be an opportunity lost to create a true sense of uniqueness and a visual break from the San Fernando Valley for those arriving from Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks.
( Mitt Romney supporting a mandate to purchase healthcare insurance.)
I post guest blog entries on a variety of topics from my readers. If you would like to post a guest blog entry send me an email. I don't need to agree with your point of view to post your entry. That said I agree with much of what community activist Jay Kapitz has to say.
Opposition to Health Care Reform Spells Trouble Ahead for GOP and Tea Party By Jay Kapitz
A new Associated Press-GfK Poll finds a widespread hunger for improvements to the health care system, which suggests President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies have a good chance for a political gain with their successful enactment of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act". According to the poll only 4 percent of Americans say the existing health care system shouldn't have been changed at all. Although there had been was no clear majority opinion on the best way to reform the health care system, most polls have indicated that at least 40% favored President Obama's plan while another 13% favored an even more extensive overhaul.
The challenge for President Obama was that although there was always great support for health care reform there was never a particular formula for reform that was easily supported by enough members of Congress in order to obtain the supermajority needed for earlier passage.
Imagine if the President needed to order a military action for our national security and that 96% of the public and Congress were supportive of this action. Now suppose further that there was no obvious consensus on which strategic plan: land, sea or air forces, to use. Should the President take no action at all? This turns out to be the trouble for the GOP , both in their opposition to the health care reform by their entire Congressional membership and their alleged desire to repeal it. They may now be labeled as the party against all health care reform even though some form of health care reform was supported by almost all Americans. Even worse for the GOP is that many reforms are expected to be very popular once enacted - especially prohibition of pre-existing conditions, students remaining on parents policies until 26 years of age and tax breaks for small business.
The GOP and the Tea Party gambled that health care reform could be blocked. Now that they have failed, they continue to fight for repeal and block other initiatives that are linked to support for working Americans including extension of unemployment benefits.
The GOP and Tea Party brand is already demographically and regionally limited and now may be further limited to Americans who were against health care reform and against support for working families. The Democrats stand to lose some Congressional seats in 2010 because President Obama is not on the ticket. Do not be surprised if 2012 is a good year for Democrats, especially if the economy improves.
From time to time I post guest blog entries from my readers. Martin Breen has been the most prolific but I am open to essays from others too. I don't need to agree with your view to post your essay.
Here is Martin's latest:
So if the rich and poor in California are in fact being financially supported by the Middle, shouldn't both groups treat me better and with a little more respect? Perhaps since the poor don't pay taxes and I completely carry their burden, they can send me a "thank you" post card twice a year like the kid my family supports in Africa. But we get no thank you; rather, we get demonized and attitude like how dare we even consider cutting back free housing, healthcare and school? It's time for the middle class to push back and demand some gratitude.
Click on continue reading for the rest of the essay.
Please leave a comment as feedback to let Martin know what you think.
Martin, stop focusing on faraway "elites" and tell us what you think of our local state legislators and the jobs they have been doing. Change begins at home.
Guest blogger Martin Breen is back with another attack on Wall Street. I am open to posting guest blog entries from a variety of views. Just because I post it doesn't mean I agree with their views. In this latest entry Martin Breen has upped his anger at Wall Street.
Are you Now, or Have You Ever Been a Wall Street Banker? By Martin Breen
If you watch CNBC or read the Wall Street Journal, you would think that criticizing the financial industry or wanting an investigation into potential crimes committed by those involved in the 2008 Financial Crisis is a witch-hunt on par with the 1950's McCarthy Hearings on Communism. Channeling my inner Richie Cunningham (yes, that is a "Happy Days" reference), "that's just cow dung, Fonzie." There's nothing anti-business about expecting the laws of our nation to be equally applied and enforced. Indeed, this is the very political ideology that led to our founding and separation from England.
Click on continue reading for the rest of the entry.
Frequent guest blogger Martin Breen is back with another entry. Martin, by now I know what you are against, but I don't know what you support. Are there any financial regulations pending in congress that you support? Do you like Arianna Huffington's push to move money to local banks? Are you against the tax on some banks that administration has supported?
I am also what local candidates you support.
Here is his latest entry:
The Adventures of Fedman and the Temple of Doom Otherwise Known as AIG By Martin Breen
If you hear our Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, tell it, he and his banker friends saved the world on a blustery fall day in September 2008 when they bailed out AIG and saved us from certain doom. Good old Timmy recently told this tale to one of the Congressional Oversight Committees, namely that he needed to bailout AIG as its bankruptcy would have caused the collapse of the financial markets. Talk about grandiose. There's nothing more surreal than watching this Spock wannabe puff out his chest and suggest how he saved the world. Never mind the fact that he and the bankers caused the crisis. Indeed, if Superman caused most the problems that he was trying to fix, then I don't think anyone would think he was very "super." Someone needs to give Timmy a reality check - you're not a superhero, you're the villain.
Click on continue reading for the rest of the guest blog entry.
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Community Activist Jay Kapitz is asking you for help lobbying the Federal Government over Rocketdyne. Jay has been a frequent supporter of this blog over the years by posting comments, writing guest blog entries when he went to DC for the inauguration, and keeping me informed over local grassroots politics.
Here is his latest guest blog entry:
Rocketdyne Clean Up Is a done issue
By Jay Kapitz
There is a very serious situation that affects my community of Oak Park in Ventura County.
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory, currently owned by the Boeing Company, is located approximately five miles from Oak Park. A partial nuclear meltdown, thousands of rocket tests and decades of nuclear reactor development have left radioactive and chemical contamination at the site.
Click on continue reading for the rest of his guest blog entry.
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I sometimes post stories there that I don't post here.