April 8th, 2008

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

I am up and feel quite tired.  I read the news on the torch in SF.  I wanted to see it for two reasons, one is because I think it is thrilling, and the other was to support Tibet, but I met a woman yesterday who is friends with the police commissioner and she really does not want me to go.   She was pretty clear that the police are expecting a great deal of violence, and we know that, and it felt sobering.  I made two new friends yesterday, and she was one.

I want to share a bit of the experience yesterday, especially since I'm not seeing anything on it in the Chronicle.  No wonder the legislators think we are not paying attention.  There were two of us from Marin, one from SF.   Sixty came on a bus from Sonoma and Santa Cruz had a van-full.  People came up from southern CA and it is a longer distance for them, and yet, they are under the greatest threat.    Senator Christine Kehoe, who represents the San Diego area was great and received a well-deserved reward for her work last night.  One man was from the Crescent City area.  He couldn't stop talking about the recession there.  He had culture-shock because we were smiling and looked happy and our cars weren't banged up and we were eating in restaurants.   What is going on in this country?

Back to CA.   There are a good many battles.  Christine Kehoe has been involved in the San Onofre State Beach toll road,  PGE wanting to waltz 23 miles power lines through Anza-Borrego park instead of around it, and the Bushie fence between the US and Mexico, which would destroy sensitive natural land around Chula Vista, and stop the migration of animals.  

I sigh.   The problems are so vast and yet what was very clear is that our governor is not governing.   When one has money problems, they don't do a blanket across the board cut which is what he has done.  The parks have already been decimated.   They lost over 500 positions in the mid-90's, and another 90 in 2000.   More than $4.00 used to be spent on every visitor to a state park.  Now, it is less than $2.00.  In addition, the parks bring in revenue.  I misquoted yesterday.   This is the accurate statement.  For every dollar spent in a state park, $2.35 comes back to the local economy which means revenue for the state.  

The problem is this.  Under Clinton, 98% of our tax dollars were returned to our state.  Under Bush,  and now I rumble through my notes for the figure and can't find it, but I think it is around 79% is returned to the state.   Therein, the problem and why is no one protesting that.  

Another problem which the many volunteers pointed out is that park workers can retire at 50 or 52.   They then go on to another career, while getting a monthly paycheck.  The problem of pensions is huge in this country.  We see that with the military too.

Volunteers are currently carrying our parks.  There has been a bill that meant it was fine volunteers were not paid, but that is going to expire in 2009.  There are two bills to deal with that problem.  One is by Ashburn, a Republican, and will eliminate the issue forever.  The other is by a Democrat, Furatani, and would allow volunteers to work in the parks unpaid for three years, and then the issue will be reviewed again.  Why, you most likely ask, wouldn't we just eliminate the problem?   Because of the unions, and the Democrats are supported by the unions, so they voted against Ashburn's bill.  That was the boo I gave the Democrats yesterday.  There is a place to get along.   Is this not the most ridiculous thing?   What is the definition of a volunteer?  Duh!

Of course, the Democrats feel that the yacht tax give-away where the yacht is moved to Oregon for three months which eliminates the tax, could help save the parks.  Boo on the Republicans.  No wonder I am so tired, and my head feels so cluttered.  I want to go back to bed.  

I was one of the few people there as an individual.  It says something about how little people are involved when the jaws of those I spoke with literally dropped when I said I was there because I care, and that I care about all the parks, not just my own, and that I paid my own way.   Our legislators are battered by lobbyists, even for the parks, and seemed overwhelmed.  We dealt with staff as it seems our legislators don't really know what is going on as well as their staff.  It is all too much.  It is sobering. 

Big breath.   I met with Rosanna who stood in for Carole Midgen.   There were two people from Marin there, and one from SF so we were a mighty force of three.  Carole Midgen supports the parks, and as everyone knows has some personal issues and will not return.  We met with Mercedes, the representative for Tony Mendoza, from LA.  She is a kick and we lounged in his office since he, also, was away.  Next, we met with Nate Solov who represents Jared Huffman, who is great, and as environmentally active as anyone can want.  He is my representative and I am pleased with him, and I hear how tough the battle.

We had a rally on the capitol steps for two hours yesterday with wonderful, inspiring speeches on what our parks mean to CA.  They bring in tourists.  They nurture our souls, and they are the second largest educational tool in CA after schools.  They are talking of closing down the Benicia state capital park.  We don't have much history in CA.  We need to honor what we have.  Benicia was our capital for a year. 

Anyway, the issue is complex, and if we just did something about the prisons, there would be enough money, but it seems that issue is not to be touched.  They kept saying the pie is between parks, schools, and health care.   Why, again, one might ask, but our purpose was to point out the obvious fires of the moment, and to point out that our legislators and the governor are paid to solve the problems of the state.  What are they doing?   A ten percent cut across the board is not prioritizing the issues and looking for solutions.  

There were four speakers yesterday, all of whom will probably be running for governor.  I only heard the last two because I needed a break to eat, but they were both excellent.  I recommend Bill Lockyer absolutely.  He is strong, for the environment, and keeping strong tabs on Citibank.  He is what we want.  Jack O'Connell also seems strong.

This is what seems so hard.  There are good people, dedicated, well-informed people and what a quagmire to wade through.  We elect a governor to govern, to lead, to make decisions.  We don't have a governor or a president right now.

Also, term limits have hurt the parks.  It doesn't give the legislators the time to really feel the power that the state park system brings to the state.  This land is our land, bought by those ahead of us to ensure our history is preserved.   We need to honor what is here.  There were parades of school children through the capitol yesterday.  It was great to see.

Also, the capitol grounds are lovely.  There was a dogwood that was astonishing, lovely white blooms.  Oranges hung in abundance from the trees.  There are statues and memorials, and yet, the lobbyists are bogging the system down.   One person did say that every email is counted, as well as every letter and phone call.  They say we are heard, but they seems so harried, and we need them to focus on what really matters, and sort through all the distractions.  Even as I type those words, my head begins to clear.  Sort through the distractions and focus on, as Angeles Arrien says, "what has heart and meaning."

What has heart and meaning - flowers, birds, trees, people who gather to save all these.
blue jellyfish

response -

Probably everyone has seen this by now, Cheney ignoring what the American people want and need.   Aren't they supposed to represent us, listen to us?

There is poverty in this state, in this country.  People are hungry, and Cheney doesn't want to be "blown off course," his own personal course to money and riches, and more limos to block out the view of those he rolls over and past.

William Blake - Jacob's Ladder

Speak -

I learned of a park yesterday that I walked along a few weeks ago, when I did the car clinic course, but had no awareness of before that, and certainly I had no awareness until yesterday of the monumental effort it took to get it designated and built.   Each state park is hard-won.  Our state parks are a major reason the tourists come and spend their money here.

We cannot let one hard-won park go.

By the way, another suggestion yesterday was that we vacation in our own state.  Let's support California.  It has everything any of us could want.  

As to the first rural park, yesterday, Candlestick Point Park was well-represented by a contingent of young people who volunteer and are helped there.  They brought a plant to each legislator to demonstrate what now grows in an area that was once designated as a slum and not worthy of care.  The area and the people were dismissed.  Now, the area blossoms and the people speak.  

You can check the park out at:  



I went to the doctor today and spoke about the parks with the various people I came in contact with, and not one of them knew about the proposed cutbacks and that sixteen beaches in CA that will have no lifeguards this summer if we don't stop the governor's proposed budget.  One of the nurses today, who had no awareness,  used to work for the state parks in Santa Cruz.   We need to not only write, but also to talk to people so they are writing.   They handed out buttons yesterday that say Save Your State Parks.  Wear a button.  The media must not be covering the issue very well, or otherwise people would know.  It is up to us to speak.

I also thought about Cheney today with his "so" remark and Marie Antoinette's comment which was taken out of context.  His has context.  He knows it is transmitted.  He doesn't care.  She was taken as a young girl to France, away from home and family.  This is Cheney's home.  Sad, isn't it?

We can have a revolution like France, or perhaps if we are vocal enough, we can peacefully overturn what the governor is trying to do.

The Republicans have signed a pledge not to raise taxes.  They unite in that, and curtail the number of solutions.   We have to make the parks number one on everyone's list, and then, we go from there.

heart's desire

the importance of our parks -

When Bella was missing, Joan sent me this.

"When the heart grieves over what it has lost,
the spirit rejoices over what it has left."

Sufi Epigram

I believe in that, and I think if we lose our state parks, the loss is so great, that our spirit won't be able to find what is left.  We need our parks for education, renewal, preservation.   These parks are earned.  They must not be taken away, not one of them.

Last year, the work of Park Advocacy Day saved Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.  Here are two places to learn more.



May we have something to celebrate next year that was saved, the whole system perhaps. 

alexander calder

celebration of spring

Here is a poem by e.e. cummings.  I am seeing it with different punctuations; none of them are usual.  I give one version of the poem.

Oh, sweet spontaneous
earth, how often have
fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
beauty . how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
thou answerest

them only with


e.e. cummings

Book Cover

Equality would be lovely -

Fifty doves were released in SF today to represent the 50 years of invasion and occupation of Tibet by China.

And then there is this country where the gap between rich and poor continues to increase.

Editorial from the NY Times -

Corporate Croesus

Published: April 8, 2008

As accustomed as we are to the other-worldly rewards lavished on captains of finance and industry, it is still galling that the chiefs managed to finagle a raise last year as many of the companies they led were in trouble.

A study published on Sunday by The Times of many of the biggest companies found that chief executives who had held their jobs for at least two years got an average pay increase of 5 percent last year, despite poor results at many of their companies.

Net income at Office Depot fell 23 percent last year compared with 2006; its share price fell 64 percent. Steve Odland, its chief, made nearly $18 million all told — some 85 percent more than in 2006. With the share price of Toll Brothers, the luxury home builder, plummeting, it seems reasonable that Robert Toll, its chief, got no bonus. Still, the company took steps to ensure that he gets one this year, even if home-building doesn’t recover.

It’s hard to square the conceit that chief executives are rewarded for improving companies’ performance with the fact that chiefs at 10 financial-services firms in the study made $320 million last year, even as their banks reported mortgage-related losses of $55 billion.

Meanwhile, the average earnings of typical workers have failed to keep up with inflation in four of the past five years. According to the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, average incomes in the highest-earning 1 percent of the United States grew 11 percent year-over-year between 2002 and 2006. Incomes in the bottom 99 percent grew by 0.9 percent annually over the period. This year looks bad, too.

This polarization is producing a pattern of income distribution rarely seen outside Africa or Latin America, and unheard of in the United States, at least since the gilded age. In 2006, the 15,000 families in the top 0.01 percent of the income distribution — earning at least $10.7 million apiece — pocketed 3.48 percent of the nation’s total income, double their share in 1993.

Some analysts argue that the spectacular rise in executive pay is to be expected in a marketplace in which bigger and bigger firms compete for talent. Others suggest it has more to do with the ability of chief executives to manipulate their boards to set their own pay.

In any case, the combination of inexorable income growth at the very apex of society and stagnation everywhere else can serve no public good.

The Bush administration has focused its economic policies on cutting taxes for the very richest Americans. Taxation needs urgently to become more progressive. If the United States is to continue to embrace globalization, technological innovation and other forces that contribute to economic growth, it has to share the spoils better.