Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on December 1, 1999 · Page 4
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 4

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Wednesday, December 1, 1999
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^•WMM^HWMMMililiHMttllMMIOTT^H^M^^MMMHM^^^MHMIIIHMilHMiHMMM Forum THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL LOCALLY OPERATED MEMBER iiaiMediaNews Group Y UkiahDaily Journal \J (USPS 646-920) Dennis Wilson, Publisher K.C. Meadows- Editor Dean Abbott- Advertising Director Vte Martinez -Production Manager YVonne Bel - Office Manager Ralph Ewtng - Circulation Director INmtwr Audit Burtiu 1999 MtmlMf OTHER OPINIONS from around the nation Los Angeles Times Prudence when economy is soaring In the late summer of 1998, Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Pete Wilson fought over how to spend a giant state budget surplus. Wilson insisted on a big cut in the state's vehicle license fee, the annual tax on autos paid at registration time. The Democrats wanted to spend more money on the schools. Ultimately, a deal was made to end a long budget stalemate. The car tax was reduced permanently by 25 percent beginning this year. The reduction was to be increased in succeeding years to 67.5 percent, but only if state revenues continued to soar. The Democrats walked away grinning. They believed there was no chance the state would continue to reap such huge budget surpluses. Wilson may have the last laugh, however. The Legislature's independent fiscal advisor now projects, barring an unexpected economic slump, that the full cut will go into effect-in stages, finishing in 2004. That would amount to a whopping $4.5 billion annually, says legislative analyst Elizabeth G. Hill. ... By 2004, the annual levy on a $30,000 auto would drop from $600 to just $195.... Still, Republicans are calling for more tax cuts after learning that Hill expects the state to have a $2.6 billion budget balance at the end of the fiscal year June 30. That would grow to $3 billion in 2001, but the treasury would not be as flush as it might appear. The state needs to maintain an emergency reserve of at least $1.5 billion, and preferably more, to hedge against an economic slowdown and other contingencies. As the vehicle tax cut is phased in, income and outgo will fall into closer balance. The urge to spend, either on new programs or tax cuts, may be particularly strong in the coming elec : lion year. Davis and the Legislature can best serve the state, and voters, by keeping their partisan passions in check. San Diego Union-Tribune San Diego educators overreact on middle-schoolers What were they thinking? That question is being asked by people who still cannot fathom why San Diego Unified School officials suspended three young boys because they found a loaded shotgun on their way to Keiller Middle School, handled it for a few moments and then tossed it into a canyon. Particularly since the youngsters did not bring the shotgun to school, one of the boys told a teacher about the weapon, and, most important, no one was harmed. ... When the three youngsters were suspended this month, school officials initially cited the district's zero-tolerance policy against bringing dangerous weapons to school. Soon thereafter, the district's rationale shifted to the state's voluminous education code. Keiller Principal Barbara Wyatt insisted, incorrectly, that the code left her no choice but to bounce the kids for five days and recommend their expulsion. ... While most people will readily agree that students should not be permitted to bring guns, knives and other weapons to school, we suspect that they also favor a modicum of discretion in meting out punishment. Lacking such discretion, school districts will blunder into kicking kids out of school for carrying a Swiss Army knife (Grossmont) or for packing a Boy Scout knife (Poway). And this ham- fisted application of zero-tolerance undercuts the policy by making it appear mindlessly punitive. ... Coming down so hard on three curious youngsters ... is sending the wrong message. It's telling other kids who find themselves in a similar situation to keep their mouths shut. Grass Valley Union Caltrans 'wasted spending on trees The failure of Caltrans' tree-planting effort in Penn Valley seems, at first glance, a particularly visible waste of taxpayer dollars. In March 1998, the state agency planted 800 oak seedlings at a site near Penn Valley Road and Highway 20 to compensate for the removal of 160 mature oaks during road construction projects in Nevada County. However, the seedlings were not watered during that summer and now many, if not most, appear dead. Oh, Caltrans will assure us the situation is a little more complicated than it appears. Caltrans purposely did not water the live, blue and valley oak seedlings because it wanted a sturdy woodland that would survive on its own, according to Finn.... Janet Cobb of the California Oak Foundation suggests a much simpler problem — they didn't water the seedlings and should have, at least for the first few years. OK so even if Caltrans problem is more complicated than it appears, the agency had better figure out how to do it right before they spend more money. Service tonight for World AIDS Day To the Editor: Tonight at Saint Mary's Church in Ukiah, 900 S. Oak St., an Interfaith Service will be held. This event will serve as an opportunity to remember those who have died of HIV/AIDS, those who are living with HIV/AIDS, and all those whose lives have been affected by the epidemic. It is an opportunity to come together as a multi-spiritual community blending words" of prayer and healing with inspirational chanting and music. Doors to St. Mary's Church will open at 5 p.m. Participants will include the Emandal Choir from Willits and the Kol Ha 'Emek Hebrew Choir. "The 1999 World AIDS Day theme, "AIDS End the Silence: listen, learn, live" is a reminder that each of us - especially our young people - has the opportunity to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS around the world. Our youth are faced with many challenges today, including drugs and alcohol, experimentation with sex, possible sexual exploitation and lack of access to care and services, and these factors are often most severe for young women. As the rate of HIV infection continues to rise among young people aged 15-24, it is vital that we impart to them the seriousness of the epidemic and give them the knowledge they need to avoid infection." (World Health Organization.) Simply stated, as we more openly discuss HIV and AIDS we are ending the silence. "Individuals may be less concerned about becoming infected with HIV due to treatment advances such as protease inhibitors. However, the drugs do not work for everyone, and their long- term effectiveness is still undetermined. In addition, many cannot tolerate the side effects of the drugs or do not have access to the medications." It is currently estimated that more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with young people under the age of 25 accounting for at least half of all new infections. During 1998, more than 8,500 children and young people became infected with HIV each day ... six every minute. Successful school AIDS education programs that include family life, life skills and sexual health education exist in parts of India, Zimbabwe and the Caribbean. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly one out of every 50 high school students has injected an illegal drug. While Mendocino County has seen only a handful of children with HIV/AIDS, the number of women with HIV/AIDS has more than doubled in the last three years. The majority of these women were infected either through the sharing of syringes or having a sexual partner who shares syringes. Clearly, we need to develop new strategies for preventing the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C. Ed Byrom Mendocino County AIDS Volunteer Network Ukiah Response to unhappy worker To the Editor: I'm writing in response to the whining diatribe of Debra Antone, the malcontent terminated from the Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino. Debra, your complaint is not that the management employees received perks, rather that you OUR Aep /N n WORKPLACE VA/DON'T A/g£D ,„ £.|Kt THAT KH6£j£«K h " | didn't! Every industry offers incentives to management personnel in the form of gratuities, better working conditions, the corner office, a company car, bonuses, commissions, etc. Such is the price companies pay in addition to salary to entice and keep more skilled and experienced personnel. Rather than coveting and complaining about the good fortune of others; watch and learn to enhance your skill set, work on developing a positive attitude and become a valued employee instead of a bitter and complaining "lowly floor employee." Better to light a lamp than curse the darkness! Dona Fridae Ukiah More on WTO To the Editor: Imagine living in a world where your own city or state cannot pass laws to protect you and your family from unsafe foods, contaminated water, or cancer-causing chemicals in the air? Where labor laws, environmental laws, and basic human rights laws cannot be upheld? Sound like science fiction? Well, it will fast become a,reality if the World Trade Organization (WTO) has its way. In fact, the WTO has already struck down such laws. Every public health, safety, or environmental regulation the WTO has challenged has been found to be an "illegal trade barrier." For example, here in California, the people passed a law to ban MTBE from gasoline. Now, the Canadian company that makes MTBE is challenging California's law under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and demanding $970 million to make up for lost profits. If WTO supports the company, Californians will be forced to continue breathing and drinking the additive in contaminated air and ground water. Canadians have already been defeated because they tried to ban the gas additive MMT. The American company that makes MMT challenged their law under NAFTA and won, forcing Canada to repeal the law and pay $20 million. At its meeting in Seattle, Nov. 30, to Dec. 3, the WTO will push to expand its powers even further. Over 50,000 protesters from 77 countries, including many Mendocino County residents are traveling to Seattle to protest the WTO's power-grabbing tactics. If you can't join us, take part in a national- call-in on the WTO. Call the numbers below, to voice your opposition to the WTO ruling over us. Tell the Administration, "Your NAFTA-WTO trade program has failed and we will never allow it to be expanded. You need a new plan to protect the public and our planet, not more of the same failed trade policy." * John Podesta, White House Chief of Staff: 202-456-1414 * Al Gore, Vice President: 202-456-1111 * Tony Coehlo, Gore's Campaign Manager: 615-340-2000 Toni Rizzo Fort Bragg IVftiynvn'i $",»]" The Daily Journal Welcomes letters to the editor. Only letters that include a legible signature, return address and phone number will be considered. Shorter, concise letters will be given preference and names will not be withheld for any reason. All letters are subject to editing. Fax to 468-3544, mail to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 749, Ukiah, 95482 or e-mail them to udj@pacific.net. Email letters should also include hometown and a phone number. ' feHEpk dua WEB sfitte At \rVww.uWahdailyjournal.com Watch out when the 'boom' is lowered AUSTIN, Texas - The poor are still with us. Just thought I'd point that out, in case you were under the impression that all was tickety-boo here in the land of milk and honey. In fact, there are more of them than ever as a consequence of an economy that has entirely bypassed those at the bottom. Even given the peculiar way our government defines poverty, the current poverty rate of 13 percent is still higher than it was 30 years ago. We're having yet another debate about how to define poverty with the usual result: If we make the standard more realistic, we'll have to list millions more Americans as poor. "The poor" is such a dehumanizing abstraction. There's an old Woody Guthrie song about a crash that killed two dozen people described on the radio as ."just deportees." The chorus goes: "Goodbye my Juan, goodbye Rosalita. Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria" - the point being that they had names. Because this society is increasingly stratified by class, it gets harder and harder for those who live in affluent suburbs to think of "the poor" by name. "Everyone here is so well-off," a visitor said of the Texas Hill Country over Thanksgiving weekend. I laughed. The shacks, the trailers, the maids, the yardmen, the cedar choppers, the peach pickers, the stone workers, the fence builders, the laundry workers, the day laborers - all so curiously invisible. In rural areas, it's still possible to know poor folks by name: the kids who show up fpr school dressed in clothes from St. Vincent de Paul, the folks down the road struggling to hang onto the family farm. In big cities, too, "the poor" are hard to miss - sleeping on park benches, begging at the bus station, clustered around the Salvation Army. But in the 'burbs, land of shopping malls and commutes and Suburbans and Expeditions, where do you see the famous hypothetical family of four living on less than $17,000 a year? And often on a lot less. Perhaps the most bizarre recent response to the poor among us is that of Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City, who has decided to arrest the Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist. Molly Ivins homeless. Living on the streets? You're busted. Which wouldn't be so funny if the same Rudy Giuliani hadn't just said in October that he would start booting people out of homeless shelters if they refused to work. Entire families are being kicked out of shelters for incomplete paperwork or failing to show up for a job interview that might be miles away and to which they have no transportation. The New York Post quoted one man: "I'm not on crack. I'm not mentally ill. I just could not afford to pay rent." But "the crisis in low-income housing" is another one of those bloodless abstractions that have nothing to do with Juan, Rosalita, Jesus or Maria. According to The New York Times, as we move into the advanced stages of welfare deform, a heretofore undiagnosed problem has emerged. We always knew we could move about a third of the people on welfare off fairly easily. That's the same third that always moved on after a brief period under the old system. And the theory was that we could move another third off the rolls if the labor market got tight enough, which is also happening. But there was always that last third, people with multiple problems: mental, physical, lack of education, no training - not to mention the problems of transportation, child care, health care and housing. What is emerging - particularly in Wisconsin, where welfare deform is both far advanced and being done fairly well by most measures - is the extraordinarily high number of single mothers on welfare who were sexually abused as children." There are more technical terms for this, but the bottom line is that these women have a hard time getting it together. They go to the motivational classes and the job-training classes, they want to work, they get jobs - but then they fail to show up once, twice, then for a week or more. They can't keep it up. Every little setback is a crisis to them; unkindness or fear immobilizes them. Depression, low self-esteem and hopelessness all combine to make them exceptionably fragile. Supporting two kids on the minimum wage ($11,752 a year) requires a lot of togetherness, not to mention sheer stamina. Fighting one's way through the welfare bureaucracy to get the help to which one is entitled is a challenge for someone with a college degree and a lot of self-confidence; try doing it after an eight-hour workday with no transportation, especially if.your English isn't good and you are terrified of authority. (Offices open 9 to 5, with long waiting periods, endless forms and proof of income and assets required.) "Catch-22" is not a trite phrase for poor Americans - it's a way of life. We've gotten this far with welfare deform because of the sustained economic boom, which, as Jamie Galbraith of the University of Texas points out, is built largely on the explosion of private household debt. "And with banks consolidating and diversifying, and Congress preparing punitive new bankruptcy provisions while the Fed inches interest rates upward, one can see the reckoning in the works," Galbraith wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed piece. (Now there's an abstraction for you - the Fed has increased inter, est rates three times this year despite the lack of a single symptom of inflation.) With or without such fiscal folly, the boom will end because that's what booms do. Middle-class America, which has gained only marginally frorrt this boom, will be left with a mountain of debt it can't write off. But Juan, Rosalita, Jesus and Maria - last hired, first fired, day labor, no unemployment, no welfare - will be left to the tender mercies of those whose idea of government action for the poor is to arrest the homeless.

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