Thursday, October 30, 2014

Colorado: Legal Pot Catching Up With Illegal?

Reason magazine takes a look at the competition between legal and black market pot dealers in Colorado. Their conclusion seems to be that legal dealers are becoming so much more efficient and cost effective, that they'll soon be able to compete with the still existing black market.

I'm skeptical. I still feel government (and people in general) won't be able to resist taxing marijuana as high as they can, just as they do with tobacco, alcohol and pretty much everything else. I would think the black market will always be able to beat that, never mind being able to grow your own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mad River Union: NO on P

The Mad River Union published their recommendations for the November election. They're only recommending in the Arcata City Council race and Measures P and Z.

I liked the way they put together their NO recommendation on P.  About the only problem I see is they used a lot of words to pretty much write what I already have about the measure: It's a solution in search of a problem. Still, the extra words were a fun read.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Sun Caused Outage?

Most of us have heard of the communications outage of last night that affected cell phones and internet, among other things. Latest word is it's being blamed on a cell tower problem. It didn't seem to bother us at our house

What we have had problems with lately is satellite TV. For at least the last week, maybe longer, we've had intermittent interruptions of some TV shows on Dish Network. Jeopardy was the most noticeable. All of the sudden it would freeze up for a few seconds. Kinda like when you're watching a video online and it just stops, except the picture would eventually get all broken up.

Last night it seemed to come to a head, strangely enough when the other outages were happening. At least two channels went black. Eventually a message showed up saying they were aware of the problem and were working on it. 

I wondered earlier on if it might have something to do with solar flares, or something along that line? After reading about this big sunspot and its resulting solar flares, I'm wondering if maybe it did have something to do with the sun? Anybody else have problems with satellite TV lately?

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Eyewitness Accuses

From the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat: A 24 year old man from Sonoma County has been released from jail and charges of kidnapping and rape dismissed. He was facing a potential life sentence. His cellphone records proved the victim/ accuser made up the story of him raping her. She had actually set up the meeting, apparently with sex in mind. Whether she'll be prosecuted, who knows?

Here's the story of the original arrest with Disqus comments included. There's a few "Oak tree, rope" type comments but most seem pretty mild compared to what I usually see when anyone is arrested on sex related charges.

You have to wonder how many similar situations and accusations have resulted in convictions when the "suspect" either didn't have cellphone records to back up his story, or didn't have the means to have his case investigated thoroughly? If it wasn't for this guy's cellphone records, he probably would have been convicted on the accuser's testimony and the physical evidence.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Craigslist Political Blogging

I've always been amused at some of the postings I've seen in the Craigslist local Politics and Local News and Views sections. As of late, though, it looks like those sections are giving our local bloggers a run for their money as far as hard- hitting commentary goes.

This one, posted Sunday, claims the Lost Coast Outpost is giving the Sheriff's Office the IP addresses of those making comments. He(?) claims Sheriff's deputies visited him after he made a negative comment about their anti- pot activities.

This one, posted Monday, claims city council candidates Chet Albin and Mike Newman are in cahoots with low life, ambulance chaser Jason Singleton of disability lawsuit infamy. They want to shut down more Eureka businesses.

He seems to really dislike local blogger, John Chiv. He goes after John Chiv in this second post from Monday. 

He doesn't like Rex Bohn either, according to this post, especially if he's in the company of John Chiv.

And from today's post, we find out the Lost Coast Outpost has aligned with Humboldt Citizens for Property Rights in a conspiracy to keep tourists away.

The ones above were from Local News and Views. He cross posted some of those to the Politics section, but this original one from Wednesday exposes the Lost Coast Outpost as a front for conservative voices including local "conservative"(?), Alan Dolllson.

Hard to compete with that sort of stuff, huh? He keeps this up he might run the rest of us local bloggers out of business (gulp!).

Obamacare Renewed

I wrote earlier this week about receiving notice from Anthem/ Blue Cross that it was time to renew my Covered California (Obamacare) health insurance plan. I had two main concerns: Why do I need to renew and what happens if I don't? Also, their cover letter seemed to suggest my monthly payment had been raised from $71.01 to $116.00. Are they really raising it that high so quickly?

I got another letter in the mail a couple days ago from Covered California. Basically it also said it was time to renew but, after giving all sorts of facts and figures, said if I didn't go to their web site and renew I'd automatically be renewed anyway. Naturally, I couldn't just let that go. I had to go see what the renewal process was if for nothing more than curiosity.

I went to the Covered California web site this morning only to find the same poorly done (imo) web page I experienced signing up at the beginning of the year. Tables overlaid over explanatory text and confusing navigation instructions, but I logged in and found my way in spite of that. After going back and forth a few times, checking a few boxes confirming one thing or another and signing with my digital signature, I guess I renewed my plan. No confirmation e-mail yet.

About the only thing of interest I found was one place where it gave a general description of my health care plan plus my monthly premium and the subsidy. The listed my monthly premium as $61 and change- about $10.00 less than I've been paying. Will I be paying the $61 next year, or the $116 that was mentioned in the Anthem/ Blue Cross letter? Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

CalPers Can't Understand?

Reason magazine reports how folks at the California Public Employee Retirement System are baffled that some aren't happy with their latest manipulation of public employee pay. Governor Brown attempted earlier on to at least slow down pension spiking- the practice of adding any number of various bonuses and such to their total pay thus giving the employee more for retirement. 

CalPers rose to the occasion by categorizing the bonuses and other perks as base pay so they could continue to use them to count towards their pensions. Goes to show relief for underfunded pensions doesn't seem anywhere in sight, especially since the state legislature doesn't want to touch the issue.

Interesting factoid in the article:

"The Times notes that pension contributions from the state and municipal governments within California have jumped from $1.9 billion to $8.1 billion in 10 years. That’s not even getting into the massive problem of growing health care costs for government employees."

Fullerton's Minimum Wage Plan

I see John Fullerton sent his alternative plan for a minimum wage increase in as a letter to the editor of the North Coast Journal. Good to see I'm not giving away any secrets. I saw it earlier on the No On Measure R Facebook page.

Here is his plan for a "responsible" local minimum wage increase. My comments follow:

1) Any increase MUST be countywide and not discriminate against any one city. 

 2) My plan would have two rates. The lower one would be the rate mandated by the State of Calif (currently $9 per hour). That rate would be for the following groups; A) Workers under age 21. This would help them get their first job. B) Tipped employees. Ex; waiters and waitresses, most of whom make more in tips than in salaries. C) Employees in their first six months on the job. This helps employers train new employees. 

3) The higher rate will be for everybody else and be phased in. $ 10 per hour starting January 1st, 2015 $ 11 per hour starting January 1st 2016 $ 12 per hour starting January 1st 2017 This will give the local economy time to adjust and not cost so many job losses. 

4) Finally I would give employers a credit for their cost of any health insurance or retirement plans they give employees. This would help encourage employers to offer health insurance & retirement plans to employees and doesn't that help everybody ? 

It is certainly better thought out than Measure R, but I'm not onboard and wouldn't support it. Just a few reasons:

#1. Even some opposed to Measure R say they'd support it if it applied countywide and not just in Eureka. As far as I'm concerned the objections to Measure R still stand if applied to the entire county. Humboldt County as a whole is a depressed area. I see nothing good in dragging the whole county down instead of just Eureka. 

#2. I like that he has a two tiered wage that recognizes minimum wage jobs as entry level positions. Having the option for a lower minimum for those new to the workforce makes it easier for younger folks to get that first job.

However, it doesn't take into account older, less skilled folks like myself that might need a job to make ends meet when we're no longer able to continue what we've been doing. That makes it harder to find a job if you're over 21, especially so if you're in your 50s or older.

Oh, and there seems to be no accommodation for non- profits which often rely heavily on minimum wage workers. Probably just an oversight?

#3. Whatever, although I maintain the state already raised the minimum wage this year and will raise it again January 1. That should suffice.

#4. The idea of employer credits is a good one regardless of, and even without, any minimum wage increases.

Fullerton finished by saying we need to defeat Measure R first, then work on getting a county wide measure. I agree with defeating Measure R, but I'll vote against a county wide measure as well. 

I do appreciate that he stepped up to the plate and offered an alternative after being challenged by Measure R supporters for one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kid's Pot Use Declines in Colorado

I'm not one to take polls or studies at face value but U.S. New and World Report reports that juvenile use of marijuana in Colorado seems to have declined after it was legalized. There's some mention of it possibly being the result of a long term trend that started before legalization.

I've been led to believe that drug use goes up and down among all groups regardless (or in spite of) changes in legal status. Then again, my best friend for a while when I lived in Tustin, CA told me he wouldn't smoke pot if it was legal. As far as I could tell he was totally serious. Anyone else know anybody like that?

I haven't smoked pot since the early '80s. I quit mostly because I didn't like the crowd that came with it, at least at the time. It also tended to aggravate my social anxieties (I've heard the same thing from some others). I suppose given the right place and time I might smoke it again but have no great desire to- legal or not.