Public Access Transition

Since the late 1970’s the principle electronic public media has been channels on cable TV. But they were an option that most cable franchisers did not ask for, according to a survey by the Alliance for Community Media. From the beginning the goal has been to allow local content from the public without social or political considerations. Other alternate media included underground newspapers, low power community radio, public broadcasting tv and Pacifica Radio.

By the late 1980’s political and economic changes shifted the relevance of various alternative and public media. The financing of public broadcasting, as opposed to public access, became dominated by corporate sponsors. In the 90’s the internet gradually replaced much alternative print media. Even though video options on the internet increasingly replaced cable video the internet itself never provided much community centered media. The internet was better at dispersing media than connecting people, especially in community. Those communities that used the cable public access option still had a better source of local and public media. Cable use was declining but so was print media, which kept cable public access relevant.

From the beginning, political entities in and out of government occasionally tried to censor legal content on public access channels, which enjoy the legal status of a “designated public forum.” Over time a number of political and economic innovations sucked money away from the public sectors and transferred it to commercial entities. Local government budgets became tight and the perceived essential services were going to be fulfilled first even if other functions could survive on a pittance. At the extreme, there are several problems with this reasoning as well as a couple of solutions.

Not all public access channels were well funded. Many did not receive any general fund money or an entitled part of the cable franchise fee. Public support often consisted of free rent in an unused part of a public facility. This was the case in Lake County. TV8 was a single channel access station created by a provision in the city of Clearlake’s cable franchise. There was never any intention to turn over day to day operations to a qualified non profit. It was bounced around from one public space to another. It was financed solely by a $5400 per year Distance Learning Program fee charged to Yuba College. Even though it was never a budget burden this did not prevent the most egregious violations of civil liberties by government authorities who locked out volunteers under flimsy pretenses.

The bottom line is that there is a critical need for an independent, public, and local media if communities are going to be vibrant and inclusive. But the technology and funding are going to have to change. If public media advocates step forward to make the transition then politicians need to help the transition to the next step forward in community media. Especially since it won’t cost much.

The Alliance for Community Media has been working to make the the technical transformation of public access from a cable dependent media to internet based platforms where existing cable access channels will become “nodes” of local content. The internet is now more accessible to more people than cable tv. Many subscribers have switched to satellite tv where public access is not an option. A media platform or portal could be an upgraded blog site. The Premium version of WordPress costs $8.25 per month.

Linked videos on the public platform could be stored on YouTube, Vimeo, or Archive.org.  Each “division” of this new local media platform will have its own page on the platform. Probably these separate pages would be edited by non profits with the homepage edited by the sites overall administrator. The three public access stations in Mendocino and the one in Trinity are owned by non profits. My own non profit which is currently parked is Cache Creek Performance. I naively intended it to operateTV8. There are several low cost live streaming services that charge by the month or data use to make local media more of a real time experience.

With many production programs being usable on a good laptop, the only resource missing is space for a studio. This is where thinking outside the box is critical. Why pay rent on space that is not used most of the time? If lighting and sound equipment can be put in portable packages, a studio can be anywhere – meeting rooms, restaurant stages, coffee shops, churches, government chambers. I’ve used them all. And let’s not forget the great big outdoors. There are schools with small performance areas open to the public (Lower Lake High School) as well as non profits who might like to trade temporary shooting space for publicity.

How do you make the public aware that this is the new goto public media? First, everyone on the site needs to plug the site and everyone else on it while they still can. Second, sponsor or cosponsor events and contests. Obviously the first contest should be “The Best Name for This Platform” contest. I would be interested in sponsoring a new type of Slam Poetry competition, especially if I could get Mendocino’s Poet Laureate Michael Riedell on board. There are clubs who are always looking for speakers. We need to speak to them. When something new happens on the platform, such as its initial formation, we need to send out press releases.

What can local government do to help transition to the new public media? They can make a commitment to the future. Rather than simply let declining public access channels crash and burn a positive response would go something like: “The days of paying for centralized facilities along with technical staff are coming to an end. We will work with a broad base of media advocates by providing an insurance umbrella, offering more use of public buildings for media functions, especially for storage of valuable equipment, and establishing a jack location for existing public access channels to link to the new platform.” The future is only scary if you do not prepare for it.

Booshies, Yeoman, and Sturdy Peasants

The recent election of Trump to the Presidency sparked riots and protests across the Country. Just one question: What were they protesting? It certainly would have been understandable to protest his comments when he was running for office and civil disobedience will be on point when he decides to implement his more unctuous promises. But why take to the streets after his election? Are people protesting massive voter fraud? Are they complaining about his status as a political insider that shut out more mainstream competition? Neither is the case. So what is this about? Anybody?

All I can think of is that people who have not been following events or issues are now enraged that their ignorance and apathy finally caught up to them and the Country in a very nasty way. The smart money is betting that none of this rage is directed against the Democratic National Committee that pulled the rug out from under the Bernie Sanders campaign to fast tract their favorite daughter. If they had played fair then Bernie likely would have carried the rust belt, Pennsylvania, and the election. Therefore, the DNC is responsible for Trump’s new job in the Oval Office. Strangely, there have been no massive demonstrations with signs saying “Never Again” outside the DNC offices.

How did this happen? Because other than the long ignored issues themselves there are the class identities that shape a bigger view of how people see themselves and the interests they see aligned against them. Facts are not terribly important to two identified classes: one barely educated but hard working  and a middle class that believes that once they have arrived they deserve to stay there, along with their material symbols of rank. These two classes overlap in their pretensions. It has gradually dawned on both groups that the Democratic Party that was once inclusive has now cut a very different set of deals that don’t include them. Republicans are the undeserved beneficiaries.

Is there an alternative to jumping out of the Democratic frying pan and into the Republican fire? A different way of weighting facts and choosing allies may be called for. Rather than a sturdy peasantry who thinks a life of toil without complicating abstractions should be enough or a merit based bourgeois class of minor nobles, maybe the most solid aspects of both could work along with something bigger. Maybe work outside a bureaucracy or chartered corporation should be esteemed. Maybe the only status should be that conveyed by being part of a community of interests, preferably more cooperative than individualistic. This goal suggests several mental sea changes.

The first transformation must be within what’s left of our middle classes. We created a booshie wonderland that peaked in the 50’s that was based on the best of conditions that obviously weren’t going to last. When the bill for a war that was not paid for came due and corporations were given the green light to ship American jobs overseas the house of cards came tumbling down. Now it is time for the booshies to shed their phony hyper individualist identity and join the rest of humanity. Looking for scapegoats among people who never had the power to create a sharp division between haves and never-will-haves is not going to bring back an ever expanding consumer utopia.

One real identity was the workers’ quest for a fair share of the corporate booty and shorter hours to enjoy it. As their success pushed them into middle class income levels they started detaching from less successful workers and taking on booshie sensibilities and insecurities. In addition to a fair share from their work they also started assuming that their security descended from on high and not from common interest cooperation or tighter, less anonymous neighborhoods. When the corporate exodus dropped the worker backbone of America into low wage, no benefit contracting, an anger developed. Workers also looked for the culprits who stole their rosy future in unlikely places.

Angry people don’t think very well and they certainly weren’t thinking at all in the last election. But it is true that big, bold things need to be done and soon. Consider my bottom up list, “a people’s agenda” with specific plans attached. A bottom up, first things first agenda is neither reactionary or progressive nor is it moderate. First item on the agenda: take inventory of what is left to work with. How many small property owners are left without second mortgages? How many good jobs are left? How many bad jobs are left? How many people aren’t two paychecks from being tossed out on the street? Finally, what kind of usable skill base is there that can be put to use within a community?

Other agenda categories imply an economies of scale to pursue them outside the existing political and economic structure that likes things just the way they are, thank you very much. This does not mean a researched and shared knowledge base should not be used to confront indifferent politicians about what is minimally acceptable for them to be taken seriously as agents for positive change. Laws need to be changed. Voluntary legal structures need to be created for defense and lifestyle stability. Corporate intrusions into our education and health need to be rejected and replaced. Visualize  fewer cars, lawns, and hours being spent mindlessly entertained.

So what is the focus for this new or maybe very old mindset?  Its about having a place you control. Its about being able to do work for real people. Its about having some greater purpose of your own beyond acquiring, consuming, or controlling. When we were a farming country this was the “yeoman” ideal. But we are beyond that never realized state – more complications and opportunities. Often our new tools get in the way of our lofty goals. It doesn’t have to be that way. The intentional connections between people, structures, natural resources,  and within our bodies and environment are called context. A chosen context also provides a filter and focus for relevant information streams.

A yeoman today would probably not be a farmer but they would work locally to serve the local economy. A yeoman is more focused on “us” rather than “them.” There is an effort to maintain a community of action that you are not paid for and is not always fun. Mutual ownerships and memberships make dropping out or walking away inconvenient. The sturdy peasant does not see the point of effort that is not paid or fun. The booshie tends to see a world of other atomistic booshies imbedded in a envious or hostile world out to get them and theirs. The only real purpose of government is to add the security that valued chattels and paper wealth fail to provide.

Over time, the lack of social context of the peasant worker and middle class booshie created the anger and terror of everything outside their world, real or imagined. It was only time before all issues beyond their control or understanding would shrink to fear and resentment. Blaming them for honest if irrational reactions won’t change anything. Promoting the citizen yeoman option in all things will give people a positive alternative to a world out of their control. The biggest job will be taking functions away from distant power centers. Those who have benefited from centralizing wealth to pit strangers against each other will not go quietly into the night.

Sustainable Economics Conference

I wish I could have made the Conference. I bought a ticket but the sustainable approach failed me.

Taking the 12:45 Route 3 from Rays in Clearlake should have got me there. We boarded and secured a large wheelchair at Twin Pines Casino which put us 10 minutes behind schedule to catch the Route 10 in Calistoga Southbound. I called The Vine and asked for a short hold. The dispatcher said she would try but Calistoga was at the limit of their radio reception.

As we had the Lincoln Bridge in sight, one minute late, we saw the 10 pull away. Now I’m down an hour waiting for the 3pm Route 10. I get to the Napa Transfer Station to catch the 4:30 29 Express to the North El Cerrito Bart. I wait and wait. Its 5:15. Another rider finds out the 29 Express is a turnaround and due to heavy traffic in American Canyon they are skipping the 4:30 and we’ll have to take the 5:30, too late to catch the Conference after a Bart trip to the 19th Ave Station. (by the way, the SELC directions map doesn’t have the Bart stations on it.)

It looks like Napa Vine is a sustainability barrier. Lake Transit drivers carry a company cell phone when they are out of radio range. As the Vine offices are at the transfer station someone could have walked over to the 29 Express platform to tell passengers the 4:30 wasn’t happening. I would have at least been able to catch the next Northbound 10 to catch the last Route 3 back to Lake County.

This was not the first time the Vine stranded me. Sustainability requires flexibility but also functionality. I guess I will have to follow the SELC online.

Brought to You by the DNC

With only Michigan still hanging in the balance, the Presidential Election is Done. Trump was an unlikely nominee and an unlikely victor, at least according to polls. But polls don’t count a lot of things. They don’t count a dislike of polls and how they are used. They don’t count the distrust of a corporate media which has their own agenda. They certainly have no way of registering the intensity of betrayal, unfocused rage, humiliation, and a singleminded determination to make someone, anyone pay for what is essentially the end of hope, patience, and confidence in conventional wisdom.

The media of course pointed out the corrosive, self centeredness of Trump when he was still a contender for the Republican nomination. The other candidates pulled away from him because of his bluntness but most of them had been carefully cultivating the soil of resentment for some time. After all the Republicans’ opportunistic promises, the faithful were demanding that the insider Senators and Governors lusting for the brass ring to spell out exactly where the harvest was, dammit. The more the polite candidates isolated him the more he stood out. The more the media attacked him for his divisiveness the better he looked to his core supporters. Trump’s numbers went up after every smug expose’.

It didn’t hurt Trump that the other primary pretenders were putting all their chips on one losing number or another. “I’m the Jesus candidate.” “I’m the Black candidate.” “I’m the woman candidate.” “I’m the hereditary dynasty candidate.” I’m the…..you get the idea. The Republicans started a high stakes game that an outsider was now better at playing. Trump only bet on one number too but it was a comparative winner – “I’m not an elected politician and I have enough money to make the Republican negative program happen without donors who have strings attached.” Bingo – a winner – so to speak. In the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Although the Trump strategy was a winner to get the nomination it should have guaranteed a 1964 Goldwater type train wreck in the general election. Fortunately for him the Democratic Party National Committee came to his rescue. The Country just went through eight years of shell shock after the 2008 crash with only some short term stimulus, no recovery for those taking the big hits, and no jail time for those responsible. Now someone who had been drawing big administration checks all that time thinks she should be President. Virtually all the grass roots, progressive, and blue collar families who went from 60 to 0 in 5 seconds said, “I don’t think so.” An old independent Senator who registered Democrat to fill the void stepped forward.

In America it’s tacitly accepted that you can lie, cheat, and steal to get something in politics as long as you stay within bounds. One of those bounds is that competition among fellow travelers should not descend into fatally backstabbing each other. This would weaken the commitment of the faithful in the General Election. The Republican Party understands this point. The Democratic Party decided to do something different.

A micro cabal of self important dictators, called the Democratic National Committee, decided that anyone who challenged “their” anointed choice for President should be subjected to every trick in the book. They also saw nothing wrong with funneling all money for the Democratic Party to the DNC’s chosen one. What do we care about what a bunch of stupid peasants say in silly primaries?

In spite of overwhelming support of the rank and file, big money prevailed. Incredibly, the DNC thought that the millions who threw their heart and soul behind a game changer would forgive and forget to close ranks against some mythical common enemy. Most Bernie supporters did not have “stupid” tattooed on their foreheads.

Much to the surprise of the professional pundits, the howls of pain and anguish of Trump supporters prevailed over the arrogance of the Democratic establishment. The rust belt that went for Obama in 2008, defected to Trump. Pennsylvania one of the five biggest states: Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016. Obama got North Carolina, a Southern state, in 2008. Lost to Trump in 2016. Trump’s victory was in spite of thinking conservatives defecting to the Libertarian Gary Johnson campaign. It took both major parties together to fantastically screw up to get Donald Trump elected. Maybe we need to dump this anomaly called the two-party system. It breeds an opportunism the future cannot afford.

People who do not share Trump’s simple scapegoat values were angry after the election. They were so angry they decided to join Trump supporters and stop thinking, looking for their own scapegoats. They didn’t have to look far. Trump was the reason Trump was elected and they would riot and hold self righteous demonstrations to protest this reality.

None of these sore losers have the attention span to move on the causes of successive Wall Street crashes, an eight year do nothing administration, a DNC Hell bent on destroying any sign of intelligent life in the Democratic Party, and a 20 year campaign of voter disenfranchisement by the Republican Party. Trump was the beneficiary not the cause of this malfeasance.

In the next two years America needs to take off its dunce hat and put on its thinking hat. Defensively, we need to fund legal action to protect what’s left of our civil rights. But real change will require crafting a researched, long term agenda outside both major political parties. Fact finding across disciplines is not fun and sometimes reveals hard truths. American media will not help and sneer at you. Aggressive bottom up organizing for purposes of supplanting not serving the political and media elite is long, hard work. It is far easier to blame some egotistical, loutish, oaf, who never tried to disguise it, for the desperate choice of the people than it is to take direct responsibility for solving problems going back decades.

Lake County Identity Crisis

Many years ago Lake County used to be part of Napa County, giving it the status of a San Francisco Bay Area county. It was hard to get to in those pre CalTrans days. Around the time that Lake County broke off, another nearby county was breaking up. This was the county of Klamath on the Coast. It was too small and poor to pay its bills, which were a lot fewer back then. The disappearing county became parts of Humboldt, Trinity, Siskyiou, and the new county of Del Norte. Counties can die when there is a good reason.

A case could be made that Lake County should be divided up between its functional neighbors for the good of the residents. After the grinding poverty the best reason for Lake to split at the Putah Creek and Cache Creek Watersheds is the fact that it doesn’t know who it is and is constantly at war with change. The exception is the chamber marketing people who throw all their cash at convincing a skeptical world that we really are part of the Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino “Wine Country.” Sure, out of county wineries are all too happy to take advantage of Lake’s lax environmental regulations for their satellite vineyards but their wineries and tasting rooms stay at home along with the jobs.

Mendocino has a second identity along with Humboldt as the “North Coast”, sometimes referred to as the “Emerald Triangle.” Mendocino generally works well and its county seat Ukiah is convenient to the North half of Lake County. Mendocino has a rim of surrounding communities that boast a strong cultural and community identity. Lake County has little of this. Lake County has a small group of mean spirited, small minded opportunists that love being big fish in a small pond. This leadership class does not see itself as public servants. Their motto is “To the victor goes the spoils.” In this oppressive climate the best and the brightest go elsewhere, if they can afford it.

But even myopic victors need an identity. And the Lake County goobertocracy has chosen the Neanderthal State of Jefferson movement as their inspiration. Its Board of Supervisors were unanimous in spite of this endorsement being in opposition to most of their constituency. After a series of devastating fires caused a billion dollars in aid to pour into beleaguered Lake, the ranting about California and support for Jefferson quietly died. No doubt the fires of secession are still burning in the goobers’ black hearts. So I’ve created a litmus test for NorCal gooberness.

In 1996 there were two interesting California State Propositions – Pot Proposition 215 and the 2/3 Tax Approval Prop 218. These were hot topics and tended to split along liberal and conservative lines. But not always. What if a county tended towards local control and personal freedom. Then they would favor both. In Northern California no county who complains about over regulation has any business voting against 215. This means no “State of Gooberstan.” People who have the can-do spirit will vote against easy taxation also. I don’t begrudge true goober supervisors voting their class war values but their votes should mirror the values of their bosses – the people.

The boundaries of this fantasized goobertopia are constantly shifting, depending on political realities. In the most optimistic version of Jefferson we get a rim of Oregon counties to the North, which has nothing to do with what our California Legislature does, to a Southern frontier of Mendocino, Lake, Yolo, El Dorado and Alpine Counties. A more realistic boundary target consists of about 13 counties, bypassing the hard sell middle Sierra region and Delta Counties. For some unfathomable reason the hard core redneck enclave still includes Mendocino and Humboldt Counties which has far more in common with those sinners in the Bay Area than with Donald Trump voters.

Looking at the 1996 results, a “no” on 215 and a “yes” on 218 says “break out the banjos, load up the squirrel shooters, and stomp the flag burners, yeah ha!” These counties include, coming down from the Oregon border, most of the central and Northeastern counties down to Sierra but not Nevada Counties.They do not include Lake or Trinity, obviously corrupted by Mendocino and Humboldt next door. News is slow getting back to Goober Headquarters. Maybe they think Goobers are the chosen people and they can ignore everyone else. But hey, Lake County Supervisors have a disconnect with the people who pay their salaries also.

Lake County was a 53 percent yes vote on 215 and a 65 yes on 218, along with six other double yes counties in the expansion zone of Greater Gooberstan. This is the hard core goober resistance movement, plus the single liberal “yes on 215, no on 218” county of Yolo. Other sympathetic counties have backed off on a Jefferson endorsement due to the embarrassing hypocrisy of biting the hand that is feeding them. Five of the seven double yes counties I would call the “non goober, local control” federation. But the other two, Humboldt and tiny Alpine, had “super” double yes majorities. I would call those two the libertarian counties.

Bottom line is Lake County is not State of Jefferson country in spite of what our grumpy, head-in-the -sand leaders want to believe. Since we are the “local control group” we should be part of the North Coast/Emerald Triangle network. I really want to join and I’ll always have regular connections in the Ukiah Valley within Mendocino. But in spite of my rustic rural sensibilities, minimal cultural and political functioning demands that my serious focus has to be on the Bay Area. I have a limited “push out” identity that I described as “The Wedge” in a blog but I am committed to identify Lake as Bay Area, in opposition to the deep denial of the Jefferson tribe and the wine country clique.

In order to intellectually identify with an area you have to have a good physical connection with your chosen homeland. Most of Lake County is poor. Buses to the North, East, or the Coast are minimal or non existent. But thanks to an amazing bus system gradually built up since 1995 we not only have four buses a day to the nearest functional city of Ukiah but Lake Transit also sends four express buses a day, six days a week to the South and the big, exciting world beyond. Here’s how it works.

Bus 3 leaves Walmart in Clearlake going to the Northernmost Napa County city of Calistoga. From here you have two choices. Our transit drivers will give you a free transfer to the Napa Vine Route 10 as far as the city of Napa. Your second option, and this is where “the world” comes in, is to pay a few bucks and get on the 29 Express (Monday thru Friday) and blow thru South of Napa. For pure fun, jump off at the Vallejo dock and take the ferry all the way to San Francisco, or stay on the 29 Express and go all the way to the North El Cerrito Bart Station. Now you are a light rail ride away from all East Bay cities, San Francisco, two international airports, the Central Valley, and Amtrack.

This month I’m going to the Napa Film Festival, a law conference in Oakland, and catching the slam poetry venue in Berkeley, all made possible by Lake Transit’s Route 3 to the Bay Area and civilization. Lake County is isolated only if someone wants to be isolated.

No On “V” – The Deadbeat Subsidy

Measure “V” is the latest in a long series of attempts to subsidize residential roads. Since Clearlake was incorporated in 1980 there has been no effort to continue past road assessment districts for roads serving private property. The proponents of Measure “V” have made no effort to mitigate the regressiveness of this sales tax. This is in spite of the fact that California has still not replaced all of their “temporary” cuts in SSI payments made during the real estate bubble crash. Saying people can pay more who are living below official subsistence is like saying people who are anemic can give a little more blood. As the 5th poorest county in California there is a lot of anemia here.

Its all well and good to say these are “public” roads even if they are all in residential neighborhoods. But in reality people think of the road in front of their house as “their” road – even some proponents of Measure “V.” When neighbors of a previous mayor wanted to ban transit buses serving the Senior Center from turning around in “their” neighborhood the Clearlake City Council complied. This public action in deference to private property forced transit buses to make a partially blind U-turn in front of the senior complexes until an emergency agreement could be signed to use Walnut Grove’s property.

Yes, I know something about the buses. When the Lake Transit operations manager says the Clearlake roads tear up the buses she’s right. But she’s leaving out the fact that experienced drivers will have every rut and pothole memorized, slowing down or swerving around them. Due to high standards and low pay most drivers are qualified but relatively new. They don’t stay around long enough to know every bump on a first name basis. And don’t forget that in order to run as many routes for the money as possible Lake Transit buys the cheapest buses which fall apart faster.

It should be no surprise that the Measure “V” Committee meets weekly at the local realtors office. Obviously, if there was a road assessment attached to property it would be a little more difficult to sell depressed lots and houses. This is not surprising since many other local business people are reluctant to pay their bills also. The Business Improvement District was a structure created by the State Legislature in 1994 just for places like Clearlake. The businesses would have total control. The catch is the businesses within the district would have to pay the full assessment.

One goal that should be everyone’s priority is the health of the Lake. Worse than aquatic weeds and algae are the cyano bacteria blooms. These are the outbreaks that smell like sewage. They are unbearable and instantly empty out the lakeside motels and eateries. One of the critical factors is the balance of certain minerals running off into the Lake. More grading causes more sediment run offs.The Measure “V” proponents promise more grading for “The Avenues.” Any questions?

No one is disputing that a ten year sales tax will only make a tiny down payment on an abandoned road system that started out at the bottom in 1980 and went down hill from there. A previous Clearlake mayor quoted $1,000,000 per mile to pave roads. The voter’s pamphlet notes that Cearlake has 63 miles of paved roads and 49 miles of dirt roads. If half of the paved roads needed repaving that would require over 31,000,000. The added several million per year to grade 49 miles of dirt roads is money down the drain and into the Lake. The road job is huge and only assessment districts will generate the kind of money to get the job done, paid for by the people who will benefit the most.

Going back to Clearlake incorporation day, they designated every road as either a “Clearlake road” that they would assume the responsibility for maintaining or a non Clearlake road where the residents were on their own. Often these roads are side by side. Originally there was a difference in condition but the City has not kept up with the road obligations it assumed. Clearlake was not ready to be a real city that provides promised services. And now the people who should be whipping out their checkbooks want the minimum wage and fixed income crowd to pick up their slack. Oddly, local politicos in unguarded moments refer to them as “the wrong kind of people.”

Now I know what Chamber types who think everyone is economically stupid have been saying. Everyone will benefit from anyone’s improved road. But renters aren’t stupid. They will see their rents go up if their rental units become more valuable due to road paving. One City employee amazingly said he liked the idea of visitors paying for our roads. Half of Clearlake’s sales tax comes from Walmart. News bulletin: People are not coming to Clearlake to shop at our Walmart. They have their own Walmart….without the cyano bacteria blooms.

Clearlake could be a tourist mecca if the self anointed leaders didn’t cling to the defeatist strategy that any necessary infrastructure improvements must be paid for by the State, the Feds, the poor or we’ll do without. Frederick Douglas once said that “you can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” I think that explains why a former part of a Bay Area county would now rather be associated with the proposed goober State of Jefferson than a vibrant community of possibilities for the future.

 

How Many Lower Lake Teachers Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb

 
Monday I found the Post Office closed for Columbus Day. It was not really Columbus Day but Mondays are the dumping ground for days off disguised as holidays. This is the most bogus of all phony American holidays since it celebrates the “discovery” of the West Indies. In three attempts Columbus never landed anywhere that would become part of the United States. Don’t tell the Post Office that others previously landed on our continent or they will want those holidays off too – celebrated on a Monday.

This year I’m grumpier than usual about this insult to those living in the real world. Native Americans have tried to get schools to hijack Chris’s day for Native American Day for some time. But this year it comes on the heels of a Lower Lake High School teacher’s demand that reluctant students join in worshiping the United States flag. A teacher new to Lower Lake High School decided to make all parts of this religious ritual mandatory. Those students who stayed seated were heretics and would be burned at the grade book stake. One silent protester was a Native American.

The protesting students acted much smarter than my past approach of going thru accepted channels. In 12 years of civil rights violations by local government bodies this has yielded me zero results. Leilani Thomas and another student went right to network TV and the ACLU. They didn’t waste time complaining to the administration who hired this teacher. Nor did they did they write a letter to the local “Goober Gazette.” Local media being another black hole for dealing with civil rights abuses. Within hours all national networks and a dozen internet blogs had picked up the story. I was impressed.

The Konocti Unified Schools Superintendent received an informed media assault as her first hint that something was amiss in the public relations department. The student had gone nuclear by recording the barely articulate jingoism of the teacher and we still don’t know what that teacher taught, probably “Mindless Obedience 101.” The recording of an ignorant teacher’s babbling was more serious than the civil rights violation itself, which most goose-stepping Americans were in favor of. In fact, sixty percent of the internet traffic was supporting the teacher’s action against Leilani’s silent protest.

The transcript starts out with the teacher saying, “Here’s the deal.” Then what follows is a very raw deal. The teacher sarcastically offered the student a chance to redeem herself by submitting a written argument in an “essay form” to validate her action. There’s an interesting catch. If your writing skills are poor then you have no civil rights. It sounds like the old literacy tests for blacks voting in the deep South. I know, people protest “Bad analogy. People should be literate to vote.” But petty tyrants gave whites a different test and their goober friends no test at all. I wonder what kind of civil rights essays this teacher is capable of writing – complete with legal case references.

Wait! The recording gets better, almost comical. Dissing the student’s reasoning that the flag does not conjure up warm fuzzy feelings in her for what happened to her ancestors by mobs waving it, the teacher responds, “Like why? Why, because here’s the thing; those people, those people, they’re not alive anymore. Your ancestors.” Such a profound exponent of penetrating incite and inspiring eloquence by a teacher must be defended in our public school system. Having sewed up the Donald Trump vote with this irrefutable reasoning, teacher then spoils it with an argument containing two false assumptions and one honking contradiction.

Paraphrasing: the Lower Lake Cicero explained that the flag represented the military and they “risked their lives for us.” Remember, in her previous breath this guide for the next generation trashed a student for arguments based on experiences of past generations. Now she is demanding that students stand up for generations of mostly dead military personnel. If you don’t think this is a clear contradiction then maybe you should be teaching school in Lower Lake.

I don’t know what college this credentialed embarrassment got her degree from but the flag does not represent the military. It represents this country’s civil society of which the military is subservient to, even though oddly, people in the military are on vacation from our democratically created body of laws. Their laws are called the Code of Military Justice.

The second false premise is that the military risks their lives for us. Who’s us? Were the hundreds of indigenous peoples that were mowed down and dispossessed by our military part of the teacher’s “us” group? What about the dozens of times our military went abroad in the blatant service of corporate interests (especially the banks), crushing popular movements in the process. Back home our military “ancestors” sided with ranchers against farmers and brutally suppressed the “Bonus Army” of veterans. The last time our military “risked their lives,” front and center, “for us” was the War of 1812. But what have they done “for us” lately?

The Super went into damage control mode even before she had caught up with all the facts. The traitorous students were moved to another class – probably “Watch Your Ass 101.” A one sided statement was issued that stated the teacher was being disciplined and that students don’t give up their civil rights when they enter the school grounds. This is not quite true but extra civil liberty restrictions on students must follow the Tinker Standard, a Supreme Court guideline that I’m certain the flag worshipping teacher knows nothing about.

The brushfire is still smoldering even though one school board member says the issue is over. There is still the remaining problem of a Konocti Unified High School principal and a department head that had agreed to hire this ignorant teacher after a lengthy interview. We need to look at the school administration’s bigger agenda and criteria for hiring teachers. Maybe we should look at the standards for hiring principals. This needs to be done before we vote on the local school bond in next month’s election.

Back to Columbus Day. Dump it. No we will not take away a day off from the lucky few. We will replace it with another far more important and neglected holiday. That day, which should be far more revered in our schools and respected by Americans everywhere is Bill of Rights Day – December 15th. It is recognized by Presidential Proclamations and used to be noted on calendars. Although some teachers and principals may disagree, I would trade a flag for the Bill of Rights any day of the week.