Bus Riders Report on the 2013 Proposal

by Dante DeAmicis

Last Summer a devastating Lake County transit bus strike turned many of our compromised residents’ lives upside down.  The heart of the conflict was Paratransit Services’ determination to keep the drivers’ wage structure flat.  This means that someone who just started driving a bus yesterday would make the same pay as someone with 15 years experience.  Tiered pay rates are common in the real world.  But one can agree with this principle without adopting the Union’s linear steps.

 In the service of this agenda, Paratransit pulled personnel from five of their units in three states, spent over $100,000 of their own money, hired driver applicants that they had rejected previously, and refused to resume full bus service after the strike officially ended to starve out old Union members.  Paratransit is not paid for routes that aren’t running so pursuing their private agenda was worth big bucks to them or some private group bankrolling them.  Their guiding principle seems to be “Lake County riders be damned.”

 The proof that Paratransit had a sinister motive would be if an independent study showed that this contract management company fabricated a huge cost figure for the Union proposal in the absence of reasonable assumptions or best practices.

 The Union proposal can be wrong but still within the realm of reason.  They say their proposal would cost less than $100,000 over Paratransit’s offer.  Paratransit says it would bust the bank at 400 grand.  Lake Transit Authority’s Mark Wall has crunched some numbers that he claims mostly supports Paratransit’s position but has not been forthcoming with specifics.  I believe his figures are public information.

 This kind of discrepancy cannot be accounted for by merely choosing different but reasonable assumptions.  However, neither Paratransit or the Teamsters union have disclosed their methodology.  In addition to myself, CPA Peter Shifman and Mike Bailey, a retired Wall Street guy, have also been denied a crack at the numbers.  Its clear that if this truth gap is going to be closed the job will have to done by the public and riders directly.  The professional elites have failed us.

 This “riders” study has clearly stated assumptions that can be tightened up with specific facts that either Paratransit Services, the Teamster Union, or the Lake Transit Authority can supply.

It is the result of published bus schedules, media reports, the previous driver contract, my limited experience as a transit employee, my extensive experience as a bus rider, and hours of piece meal interviews with longtime drivers on the fly. The end result is a stitched together Frankenstudy but I believe it is based on pretty good information without political agendas.

 CPA Peter Shifman and myself agree that the whole medical issue shouldn’t have been part of the original negotiations due to the Affordable Care Act complicating the issue this year.  We should have been able to compare the Paratransit with the Union wage and benefit numbers without the largely irrelevant medical issue but this Union blunder allowed Paratransit to concoct outrageous fabrications.

 Nevertheless, the issue was in the negotiations so I had to assume a minimal level of voluntary participation on the part of the full time employees in the Union Proposal.

 My Grand Total of the Union Proposal is $151,807.02.   I turned in this report with some boring charts to the Lake Transit Authority at their February 12th meeting.

 It would seem that the Union’s estimate of their proposal was low-balled but Paratransit’s analysis was a product of magical thinking.  How could we explain the huge difference between the Union and Paratransit’s calculations?  The only place to find an answer is in the medical assumptions.

 Rather than 7 we could assume that all the other 13 eligible employees would sign up due to the $80 per month savings to them.  Additional cost: another $12,480.  Also, all employees would have to take advantage of the new spouse coverage, even if they had to get married first. Additional cost: $146,880.

Since I’m still short $88,833 of Paratransit’s 400 thousand inspiration I’ll just assume medical insurance rate increases for 40 employees and spouses (up from 7) of $2,221 per person over 3 years.   Presto: $400,000.  Not bad, since its all done with a medical plan that’s irrelevant as I type this.

Going Like 60

by Dante DeAmicis

I’m turning 60 tomorrow. I guess I can’t be called too young to know what I’m talking about anymore.  Of course, I’ve noticed that many people can live to a thousand and they will still be too young to know what they are talking about.  Knowledge and wisdom is progress forward minus backsliding.  Even with the support structure of organizations and intellectual models it seems that humanity keeps getting dumber and dumber.  Its all so sad.  I’ve had to leave behind so many fellow travelers, babbling nonsense on the side of life’s highway.  Ideological baggage was shed piece by piece so there would be space to pocket gems picked up along the way.  Sometimes its just a grain of gold I caught in the light of day.

But the journey is not over yet, not by a long shot.  In fact, the path forward is studded with manifested truths, large and small, just waiting for me to stumble over them.  Such as, just recently it occurred to me that what we call the holiday season is really an obstacle course.  It is not really a specific period at all.  Thanksgiving appears to be a warm up event for the real holiday frenzy.  It doesn’t seem to have a coherent point by itself.  Right after this weak excuse for a four day weekend not much happens except isolated zombie shopping with no special regard for the time of year or our fellow man.

Gradually, as the Winter solstice approaches, people start taking various numbers of vacation days to begin an extended circuit of family whistle stops around the country.  Coverage at businesses and hospitals gets thinner and thinner even though we are still only “approaching” the holidays.  The calendar becomes a free-for-all on Christmas Eve, defined as the whole day before Christmas.  Some are off some aren’t.  Most get off early.  Christmas is holiday ground zero, ignoring the pagans’ claim that the original Bacchanalia started on the Solstice.  Once again, some get a day-after rest period, some don’t.  And again, some lucky employees are off and some small businesses are closed until after New Years.

Bottom line, there is no clear holiday shut down and ramp up section on the calendar.  Its more of a series of skirmishes of varying participation.  What is the reason for this?  Obviously capitalism is to blame.  The 10 day pagan Saturnalia was to be reduced under Christian management to a day off in the middle, a day off at the end, and maybe an hour off early the night before.  We weren’t supposed to mention the Solstice unless we wanted a lump of coal in our stocking.

The problem is that rather than either one big week and a half party or a sweat shop two days off, we get an indeterminate period of poor functioning.  The solution: bring back the Solstice.  That’s around December 21st for the astronomically challenged.  This way we get a clean holiday shut down and a building of the festive mood, then a mellowing til January 1st.  People who have to work would get double time during this official holiday season.

…..On a more political note, Lake County is a job destroyer.  There is no money here except from State and Federal checks.  A few pot farms and vineyards are arguing over who is in second place but neither produce many jobs.  This year I had two low paid jobs shot out from under me by government policies.

Clearlake put in a taxi regulatory scheme that was proven to be boiler plated from a large city.  But there is no big city taxi money here so drivers and owners would be working for less money under a morass of regulations that the City itself does not understand.  After I complained the City Administer said the regulations were required by the Motor Vehicle Code, the PUC, and their cooperative insurance carrier.  These sources were easy to check and easier to disprove.  Did anyone care that the administrator was proven to be a liar and had a class war agenda?  No, it passed the council unanimously.

My next job was driving the transit bus during a period of tense labor negotiations.  The managing political authority wrote up a contract with a private managing company that basically let them do whatever they wanted labor-wise.  Then the Board threw up their hands and said “The contract won’t let us interfere.”  When these out of county goons forced a strike they had already lined up a flood of union busters from five of their bus companies in three states.

The end result was the elimination of wage structures that had existed for years.  Every driver was to make starting wage…forever. Well, that’s not quite true.  After a driver is licensed, trained, and minimally experienced they can get a decent driving job elsewhere, ultimately leaving no one except beginning drivers behind.  Many striking drivers and non striking but problematic drivers such as myself were not called back.  Check out my video on this sorry story “Report From Driver 39.”

Most of the jobs I’ve been applying for are “temporary/part-time/on call/minimum wage.  The managers dug in here are psychopaths who were exiled from decent places that don’t promote hostile work places.  That’s Lake County and that’s the way the small minded goobers who run things want it.  Taking the bus to Napa or Ukiah is looking better and better.

Now about my birthday bicycle trip.  I’ve been researching the old surveyed railroad route from Napa to Lake County.  It never happened but it was an exciting attempt that occupies a place in history.  The idea is to plan a bicycle event that roughly follows where the tracks would have been laid.  Who knows what this line would have been called. But I’m declaring this train themed bike tour the “Konocti Kannonball Run.”  Kind of catchy, don’t you think?  My birthday ride will be a partial recreation with video and photos.  I’ll take a lot of notes.

The high points after leaving Highway 29 in Middletown are Pope Valley, Butts Canyon, Chiles Valley, then dropping down into Napa Valley through Saga and Conn Canyons. Going into the city of Napa by the original identified roads, the trip will officially end at the old trestle site on Napa Creek. The trestle is long gone but there is a new foot and bicycle bridge in its place. This is in the new old town tourist district. After basking in glory, its a pizza and a bus back to Lake County. Look for the photos.

Paratransit Head Shots

By Dante DeAmicis

In my “911” post I reported that all the canceled bus runs after the drivers ended the strike were 100% due to sabotage by Paratransit Services.  As transit is a service not a product the services could have been running at full strength immediately. Paratransit’s private agenda would not allow this, as I pointed out in my 9-11 LTA meeting blog.  They gave no reason for their action. Apparently they didn’t feel they owed the public an explanation other than to say that the law allowed them to wait 5 days before taking back the strikers.

Of course they neglected to mention that this law implied “if they needed those days.”   With manufacturing, a business might need those days to ramp up.  Service businesses can usually resume without implementing this option.  Most people would say it is violating the intent of the law to use this legal slack when it is not needed.  Paratransit is not most people.  But they didn’t stop there. Their para reasoning was on a roll.  They reasoned that since they could hire people for 5 days they had the right to finish their training, which would take over two weeks, before taking any of the original drivers back.

At some point Paratransit’s pursuit of their secret agenda outstripped their ability to rationalize it.  While they were busy training new people hired during the 5 days after the strike, they continued to hire new drivers after the 5 days as they allowed a few former full time drivers to come back as “part time” and “temporary” drivers.  I ride the bus.  People talk.  Not to mention I work with someone who was hired as a transit driver during this post-5-day-after-the-strike period for his second job.

Paratransit would not say what this hostile agenda is but its effect was to slam the bus riders and Lake County economy for an additional two weeks.  Mark Wall, the Lake Transit Authority manager weakly defended this transparently predatory action as a justified preemptive maneuver in case the Union decided to strike again some time.  Amazing.  This ignores the fact that the ranks of transit drivers are now saturated with non union drivers or they wouldn’t have crossed the picket lines to begin with.  The Teamsters would have to be suicidal to call a strike in their weakened condition.  There is no reason to believe this old, conservative union is suicidal.  If they were they wouldn’t still be around.

So what is Paratransit’s hidden agenda?  Most residents think it is not hidden at all, that it is pure “union busting”, possibly subsidized by outside interests.  That would be an obvious conclusion . But it is not an entirely satisfying one.  First off, Paratransit Services is not an entrepreneur desperately defending their capital investment.  They are simply a management company brought in to run a public investment on a contract by contract basis.  They can’t actually loose any money so their borderline paranoid behavior is a mystery.  Why the LTA tacitly condones these bazaar actions is a bigger mystery.

Make no mistake.  After the strike officially ended on August 16th the reduced bus service was no longer a labor problem.  Lake County was in the grip of a management problem.  Labor was no longer involved.  The transit authority continues to absolve Paratransit from any responsibility for their two week attack on the most vulnerable segment of the population – transit dependent residents.

So how much damage was done?  Because Paratransit had a driver replacement plan that was explained and accepted at the August 14th LTA meeting we can come up with a very specific theoretical number for the damage inflicted on our County by a service that we paid for.  Percentages, dates, and the bus schedules are all that is necessary to arrive at this number, which I call the “head shot” number, as in “shots to the head.”

The Paratransit Plan called for 60% of the routes to be running with replacement drivers between August 16th and August 24th. That’s 6 weekdays and 2 Saturdays worth of runs.  According to the bus schedules there should 734 runs operating during this period.  If 40% weren’t running because Paratransit put their agenda first, that meant Lake County took 294 inexcusable hits.  Between August 26th and August 31st these ungrateful carpetbaggers allowed only 80% of the buses to serve our residents.  That’s 5 weekdays and one Saturday for a total of 565 scheduled runs.  If 20% of the runs were held hostage by Paratransit that means an additional 113 runs were slashed from the schedule.  The figure for both phases is 294 plus 113 for a total of 407 head shots delivered by a shadowy cabal who have shown nothing but contempt for the local taxpayers who are feeding them.  It is time for the Lake Transit Authority to get a clue as to who is buttering their bread as well.

This “head shot” number was easy to arrive at.  Another of my blog posts mentioned a “diamond number” that would reveal a greater level of corruption, incompetence, or just plain self serving meanness.  Unfortunately, this figure will require a variety of data, some of which may only be possessed by Paratransit.  Stay tuned to see whether the LTA will assist or hinder the effort to pry this publically paid for information from the Paratransit inner sanctum.

Report From Driver 39

A personal account of the struggle between Lake County bus drivers and Paratransit Services.
The video includes clips from a Transit Authority meeting, a KPFZ radio show, and news coverage by Shannon Nailor.

Lake Transit Authority 911 Meeting

By Non Union Driver Number 39

The Lake County Transit Authority meeting had the usual multiple reports by Mark Wall.

Paratransit Services padded their appearance with two representatives.  In addition to the local Operations Manager Wanda Gray’s bi monthly presentation of mundane statistics, a big wig from corporate also added some numbers.  Why couldn’t she have handed her numbers to Wanda?  To me it seemed that the corporate hanger-on was mostly at the meeting to do a shameless plug and self congratulation for Paratransit Services. (Yes, once again Corporate American has shown they can close ranks to crush the ungrateful peasants, rioting in the streets for a few more crumbs and a modicum of respect.  Paratransit has boldly stepped up to put these rabble-rousers in their place under our shoe as decreed by Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen!)  At least that’s my take on the corporatese.  More on this later.

Mark Wall reported that ridership was down which he could only attribute to a reaction to the last fare increase.  I offered other reasons outside the Authority’s control, but never mind.  An unintentionally comical response came from Board Member Dickson who suggested we needed a marketing campaign featuring “nice looking people.”  I did a double take.  Obviously we don’t want to use the typical transit rider in photos.  Hell no, we don’t want to scare people off.

But what happens when someone gets suckered, I mean encouraged, to give the bus a try?  As they step on the bus for the first time since grade school will they see the suited-up business people, cheerful soccer moms, garden club matrons, or uniformed blue collar workers toting thermoses and lunch boxes in glossy posters?  No. They will be treated to a cornucopia of Lake County’s flotsam and jetsam.  A howling crowd of the broken and deranged, furtively sipping out of brown paper bags as tattooed tweaker moms scream at their unwashed children.  As the transit tenderfoot gets wider and wider eyed they may wonder  “Where are the well scrubbed commuters in the pictures?  These aren’t workers unless the circus is in town.”  And that will be the end of that sustainability experiment.

The next report Mark Wall whipped out was the independent audit based on him giving documented answers to 60 questions.  The result: No findings, nice job Lake Transit, and don’t forget our firm when it’s time to do your next audit.  I don’t know if driver turnover was in any of the questions but it should have been.  When you pay 10 and a half and your neighbor is paying 14 and a half you lose a lot of drivers after their training and a little experience. Since a large percentage of new drivers is a system stability factor I would think that should be part of the audit.

Lets return to the corporate snow job. The Paratransit exec stated they pulled trainers and drivers from five, that’s five, Paratransit accounts to restore full service in Lake County.  That’s a lot of muscle to wear down 39 striking drivers.  She volunteered that this was not “Union busting.”  I’m certain it was a huge expense.  Was it backed by an anti union group?  Will we ever know?

Now the Board responds.  Actually just Joey Luiz.  Normally Joey’s a go-along-to-get-along person but today he seized on Paratransit’s glaring contradiction in their stated primary objective to restore full bus service in Lake County.  If restoring full service at no additional cost made all other considerations secondary then this could have been achieved the day after the Union voted to end the strike on August 15th.

Paratransit had a two phase plan to restore service with replacement drivers.  The next phase was going into effect, restoring 60% of the routes.  I would guess that meant 60% of the drivers were replaced.  The other 40% of the routes could have been immediately filled with some of the original drivers.  They weren’t.  Paratransit chose to roll at 60%.  Screw the Union. Screw the riders.  Screw Lake County.  And we’re supposed to believe Paratransit isn’t first and foremost a union buster.

Paratransit chose to interpret the law in a way that suited their private agenda.  The law gives companies up to 5 days to get reorganized after a strike, if they need it, before putting the unreplaced old workers back on the job.  Paratransit said  “Oh goody.  This means we can continue to train drivers already hired plus pull a few more applications off the pile for 5 more days, continuing to replace drivers for two weeks until September 3rd, even though it means an additional and unnecessary 2 and a half weeks without full service.”  That’s Paratransit’s “parareasoning.”

As Joey Luiz pointed out the discrepancy in Paratransit’s post strike behavior, Board Member Jeff Smith rushed to Paratransit’s defense with an admonishment that this was interfering in the LTA/Paratransit contract.  No Jeff.  The contract is service focused and this was a service criticism.  The corporate drone responded off point.  This was not so for Mark Wall.

Some of us remember Mark Wall claimed to be neutral in this labor dispute.  He didn’t have to but he did.  After Paratransit dropped the ball in their own defense, he offered as their reason for leaving riders high and dry, that since the Union had no contract yet they could go out on strike again after Paratransit’s replacement juggernaut had been disbanded.  There was no reason to believe this any more than the replacement drivers could go out on strike.

We are suppose to forget that the reason the strike ended was because the Union misinterpreted a LTA contract provision that was their sole wedge issue.  When that proved wrong and the Board stated they had no basis to intervene outside the contract, the strike ended the next day.  The Union folded under a rain of replacement missiles.  Mark Wall expects us to accept that the extended 14 day service disruption after the strike, caused by Paratransit, was due to the fear that a union saturated with replacement employees, with no functional strategy against Paratransit’s concentrated system-wide firepower, and with no remaining wedge issues with the LTA, “could” strike again?  Give me a break.  There is no reason to believe the Union is suicidal.

Mark Wall and Paratransit’s motives clearly are punitive against the Union rather than cautionary for the public.  It stinks of prior restraint.  It feels like shooting the wounded and stripping the dead after a battle.  Since this 14 day victory dance was at the expense of the riders I must cry fowl and demand accountability from the Lake Transit Authority.

Here is the best analogy I can think of for Paratransit’s post strike behavior. Say two armies are blazing away at each other until one has clearly lost and surrenders.  The victors stride triumphantly onto the field of battle and disarm the vanquished.  But instead of everyone going home the victors declare that their attorneys have interpreted the accepted laws of war to let them shoot as many dazed and wounded as they can for five days so these class inferiors will never dare step out of line again.  That’s what Paratransit Services has done, apparently with the Lake Transit Authority’s blessing.

Remember the number Paratransit – 528.  Remember the number Lake County Transit Authority – 528.  Remember the number residents and voters of Lake County – 528.

Disenfranchisement and Paratransit Services

By Driver Number 39

You don’t have to be a political pundit to know that our right to vote is under continuous attack by the forces of wealth and power. In the past the profoundly privileged relied on scaring the middle class and drumming up any class conflict except against theirs. Even the lower middle class bought the bill of goods about killing the goose that might lay a golden egg for their children.

As successive slices off the middle class have been dumped into the ranks of the working poor with fewer and fewer opportunities on the horizon for their children’s education and “American Dream” type jobs, this pitch does not sell as well.

Since the disillusioned and discouraged clearly outnumber the Top 1%, the Top 5%, and are on the way to over running and outvoting the whole top quintile, the only solution, short of a fascist coup, is to throw every legal barrier imaginable between them and the ballot box. Even outside the scramble for electoral representation the same drive to squelch the democratic process can be found, using many of the same tools of disenfranchisement.

This development was made clear locally at the NLRB hearing between Paratransit Services and the union representing the bus drivers. The main issue was an upcoming election for Paratransit employees whether to decertify the union or not. The Union was pushing for a mail in ballot and Paratransit’s attorney was arguing for an on site election. What’s the difference you say?

Paratransit has more direct access to the many replacement drivers they have recently hired. Those recent hires are still grateful to be working and have not had time to become soured by some of Paratransit’s Dickensonian behaviors, such as not wanting to give drivers time off to attend a wife’s funeral. Meanwhile, the Union has been effectively quarantined away from the replacement drivers as far as introducing them to what the Union has to offer. Although the replaced drivers are still technically Paratransit employees and can vote on Union decertification, showing up to a specific place for them during a short time period is more difficult.

The combination of a strike and lockout has left many drivers stretched thin. Some have increased their hours at second jobs. Others have job interviews out of the area that they have to be available for. More and more are taking temporary jobs to make ends meet. That is my situation.

The Paratransit attorney made the absurd argument that if striking bus drivers found it convenient to picket the bus yard and follow buses to do bus stop pickets they shouldn’t have any trouble making it to a specific location to vote. What’s so absurd about the attorney’s remark? Think about it. Hint: This was a strike followed by a lockout. Give up? Paratransit is referring to activities during the strike which were reduced to a token presence for part of the lockout then disappeared altogether. The current lockout period is when drivers have started to hurt otherwise they would not have given up the strike. Therefore, Paratransit’s reasons for opposing the mail ballot during the lockout are irrelevant.

Only the most naïve would believe that each side’s attorneys are making arguments for purely technical reasons to rack up billable hours. It’s clear that each side believes their preference will give their client at least a slight advantage or they would not be arguing the point. It was decided by the NLRB judge at the meeting that each side would be submitting their written arguments to the NLRB District Director who will make a decision next week.

Going back to my situation will take the Union’s attorney’s argument out of the realm of pure theory. As soon as Paratransit stopped talking to me in any meaningful way I filed for unemployment and began looking for my replacement job. I spent time and money to activate my guard card through Universal Protection and waited. The only post that came up was the hard to fill Calpine site. The turnover is huge due to accessibility problems that destroy cars and suck gasoline. The West side is nearly impossible to reach by bus/bike combo. In one week’s efforts to reach the East and West sides of Calpine I have had days that ran from 14 to 16 hours. I consider this a temporary job since I have no idea how I will get to work when 16% grade roads start getting snow bound. The Paratransit attorney refuses to consider this impediment to on site elections.

The movement to destroy meaningful representation in this Country progresses through a series of measures that seem reasonable on the surface. But the intent and the effect is to reduce suffrage for lower income, disabled, marginalized, and people without fixed residences.

It all starts locally with people who still have jobs with at least some representation. If companies such as Paratransit Services can implement election conditions that will trim off just a few percentage points of the “wrong” voters it could translate into total control for them and another slide backwards for more Lake County workers.

Press Democrat 4th Estate Sale

by Dante DeAmicis

The obit for the dead tree media read, “Lake County Transit Workers Call Off Strike” by Glenda Anderson, August 15, 2013. My name is Dante DeAmicis. I have been substituting for Herb Gura’s Law Show for the last two weeks. My two main topics have been the local transit strike and the lack of critical media at the local level.

The Press Democrat’s article on the end of the transit strike has provided me with an excellent example of the latter issue. A critical reporter would have asked chief operating officer Christie Scheffer, why is service not being restored on the next day? I doubt you would have gotten a meaningful answer from Paratransit Services.

A critical reporter would have then sought another knowledgeable source and learned that Paratransit’s emergency plan, approved by Lake County Transit Authority, called for resuming full service in two phases. Paratransit was short two replacement drivers from their hasty training program, requiring them to take back the two senior Union drivers to implement Phase 1.

Full service could have been resumed immediately by simply declaring the emergency plan now null and void. All slots remaining in Phase 2 to restore service could have been filled by the old drivers immediately. Instead, Paratransit was allowed to pretend that the emergency was ongoing and continue to train every replacement employee that made it through the door. This was done for reasons that had nothing to do with getting the buses running at full strength. This could have been done the next day if they simply acknowledged that the strike was over. I repeat: Every single bus route run that did not operate after August 16th was 100% due to Paratransit malfeasance.

Finally, a critical reporter would then have asked for examples of the “variety of issues” that Paratransit was working out over the 5-day legal maximum. A good redirect might be “What situations are those 5 days meant for and is Paratransit using that grace period for those reasons?” If the same question was then asked of the Union drivers, the Press Democrat’s ace reporter would have heard that Paratransit is misusing an unneeded reorganizational period to shoot as many wounded and strip as many dead as time allows.

Here’s some illuminating analogies to illustrate how ridiculous Paratransit’s unquestioned statements look to a critical person:

* If someone was qualified to give First Aid to an accident victim and a doctor arrived soon after, would the First Aid responder be justified in not letting the responding doctor take over because they have started First Aid?

 * Say a mudslide completely closed a freeway and the highway department temporarily allowed traffic to detour around the slide on a nearby creek bottom. Should the highway department allow this practice after the slide is cleared because off road yahoos prefer to tear up the waterway?

 * And lastly, pay attention to this one, what if a developer with government contracts was told a new heritage oak ordinance was taking effect in 5 days, and he used those 5 days to hire 30 day laborers in town with chain saws to cut down every big tree on properties he controlled? Should the local government give the waste maker more of the people’s money? `

Once again, I thank the Press Democrat for providing a shining example of why community radio and local activist blogs are the survivors of and successors to our late great newspapers.