Category Archives: Economy

The NBA Agreement and The Sacramento Kings


This morning, I awoke to read that there is a tentative agreement between the players’ union and the owners in the National Basketball Association (NBA).  This ends the 149-day lock out that cut the season by 16 games.  The season likely begins again on December 25 with a 66-game season.  From all reports, the owners acquired much of what they were hoping, but the players, too, benefit from this agreement.  By comparison, at least this isn’t a 50-game season like the one we had during similar battles during the 1998-1999 season.   Everyone should be happy, right?

With a quarter of the season lopped off the books, how will the owners or the players fare?  Considering the numbers that are bandied about,  such as the $400-plus billion per year in revenue, $80 billion is a lot of money lost during this lockout.  In the microcosm of Sacramento Kings-World, we are in an even more tenuous situation considering how this recent lockout and tentative agreement will affect the new arena being considered for the Kings.

When the Maloofs were considering moving the Kings to Anaheim, one of the stringent requirements to stay an extra year was the construction of a state-of-the-art arena to house the Kings.  With the economic situation in the United States right now, the Maloofs watching every penny they offer as well as the pennies from other governmental bodies and private corporations toward the arena, the security of the Kings continued residence in Sacramento remains in the balance… the Power Balance, if you will; and Power Balance Pavilion is not where they want to be.

With Sacramento’s mayor, Kevin Johnson, losing his “strong mayor” referendum in the courts, he has a relatively small voice regarding whether or how this arena is built.  The city council members, the city attorney, and other unelected city officials are now the movers and shakers in this process, and some of them do not agree with Mayor Johnson at all.  Compound that with the reluctance of local corporations to flood this project with money, and the risks to the completion of a regional arena and the loss of the Kings escalate.

The NBA rift was at the worst time possible for the Kings and Sacramento.  We will see in the coming year whether the resolution of this current contract was enough to keep the Kings here.  My crystal ball suggests it may not be enough, with the caveat that in one way, this battle may have had an unusually good side-effect:  The Maloofs cannot afford to move the Kings because of the revenue loss this year.

The biggest challenge for all NBA teams this year is the rebuilding of fan confidence in the league.  When it was announced that a tentative deal had been struck among the various factions, comments on the social media site, Facebook, resounded like a giant raspberry, “Who cares?”  As it has in contentious seasons in the past, it can take a couple of years for the fans to renew their faith in their favorite teams and the league.  The resentment for being so ignored in this process can be enormous.  Bitterness equals additional revenue loss through unfulfilled season ticket renewals and reduced new ticket purchases.

Of course, time alone will tell what will happen, but my guess is that the Kings will remain at least one more year beyond this season.  Yes, the players will likely get the lion’s share of the revenue.  Yes, the agreement will certainly encourage greater visibility for small market teams like the Sacramento Kings.  If the fans have any hope to retain the Kings in Sacramento after that, though, there is no other choice but to ensure that the arena is built in short order.  Grand plans mean nothing without a groundbreaking ceremony.  The final part of this equation has to do with the Kings themselves:  They must win ballgames.  Without a winning season, between the fan disconnect, economic concerns, lack of a new arena, and political wrangling, this could spell doom for Sacramento’s involvement with the Kings.  Although this NBA agreement helps, we are still a million miles from security regarding where the Kings will decide to settle are concerned.

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Standing Before Congress


Something is troubling me mightily.  It must be, because I dreamt about it last night.  In my dream, I was invited to speak before a joint session of Congress on the current status of our country.  Now, this must have been a dream of the absurd, because certainly, no one would ever invite me to speak at that particular podium; and even if they did, what would I say?  More importantly, who would really want to listen?  But, speak I did.

Although I do not remember the full text of my speech, it carried this timbre:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

I normally would address you as “esteemed,” or “honorable,” but as a body, I don’t really think of you in that light anymore.  I am sorry to lump all of you into a faceless group irrespective of the truth of your individual characters, but perhaps for a change, you will understand how we feel now when you do this to us.   It is clear that, to you, we are not people; we are “constituents,” “statistics,” or “resources.”  You assume our gullibility and ignorance.  That is a mistake on your part.

I stand before you today to inform you about my perception of your work and our path as a nation.  Both are failing, and they are failing at your hands.   When I see your choices and listen to your words, I do not recognize statesmen and stateswomen for the most part; I see arrogant, ideological zealots who are more interested in firming your place in history than serving the people who elected you.  You allow the wealthiest in our country, of which many of you can be counted, to decide what is best for the majority of us, who are poor and working-poor.  You permit corporate interests to surmount the needs of our children, the disabled, and veterans.   You propagate other countries’ dependence upon us on the backs of citizens of the United States who ourselves are rapidly becoming residents of a second-world country.   The most challenging part of all of this is that you have heard my words so often that you have had to close your ears and hearts to them just to protect your sense of self.  If you actually internalized these sentiments and thoughts, you would despair.

Yet, I must backtrack for a moment.  This is not wholly your responsibility.  It is ours.  We elected you, and reelected you, then elected you-substitutes when your term-limits arrived.  The truth is that you, too, have become interchangeable faces with your predecessors.  You could disappear today, someone would take your place, and we would barely blink; yet, you believe the hyperbole about your importance so elegantly crafted during your elections.

Your money does not make you more valuable than my friend, Carrie, who teaches art at a charter school.  Your prominence does not make you more important than my friend, Amy, who works at a university.   Your education does not make you more vital than my sister, Lorraine, who is a stay-at-home mom.  You are important to your family and friends.  We have created whatever external sense of importance you have.  Remember that we as the electorate have done this; therefore, we have the power to dismantle that public value as well.

As we watch groups like AmericansElect, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Independents, and other groups grow, know that business-as-usual is coming to a close in our government.  The standard operation of the Federal Reserve is on its way out.  Anyone who uses demagoguery as a platform is at grave risk for disengagement from their political power base, especially as the broader population learns that although those who speak the loudest get the most attention, the majority actually have the power.

Our founding fathers foretold our current situation time and again.  We simply refused to believe them.  As an example, recall what Thomas Jefferson observed when he wrote to John Tyler in 1816:

“And I sincerely believe with you,  that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a grand scale.”

George Washington understood the humanity of the citizens he served.  He offered clear guidance that would well serve our elected officials when he said in a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1785,

“Democratical States must always feel before they can see; it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.” 

I take this to mean that with prudent and open hearts, individuals of conscience will find a resolution to all of America’s woes, and that the people, not just the wealthy, will win the day.

Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, your arrogance and insensitivity is not prudence.  You refusal to compromise is not an expression of a feeling heart.  Our fear to replace you with someone completely different from those who have served in your office in the past is cowardice on our part.  We are all to blame.

Today, my fellow citizens, which is, after all, who you are, I claim my culpability and declare to you that I now reclaim my power as a citizen of these United States of America.  You no longer have the power to sway my vote without my conscientious consideration.  You no longer have the right to make deals in secret without my consent.  You will acknowledge the decimation of those peoples who stood in our way to statehood, for it is only in recognizing the injury we caused that we can even begin to ask for forgiveness.  You may no longer abscond with funds from my elderly parents and students to pay foreign governments’ bills.  You may no longer pepper-spray my sons and daughters who sit on a cement sidewalk at a university without cause.  You may no longer send my children to wars around the world without the purpose of defending the lives of our citizens, not our oil or political status.  You may no longer borrow against the futures of my grandchildren.  You may no longer give money to megacorporations and banks that rightly belong to our fellow countrymen and -women without my considered approval.  No longer shall you deny rights to even one member of our population; rights that you have no jurisdiction to govern in the first place.  No longer may you allow anyone to be turned away from health care because they cannot afford it.  You will ensure that an affordable education for all our young people is available.  No longer may you collect your salary while damaging our brother- and sister-Americans; and even then, you may only collect that salary until the end of your term.  Today, and not a day later, you will acknowledge the innate freedoms and equality that we Americans were promised at the time of the founding of our country. Remember, you answer to me and to all of us who put you in office.  I suspect my voice is simply a reflection of millions of voices across the country.

From this day forward, we decide how our country runs.  You will do our bidding, and not the bidding of corporations or small, monied enclaves of power who insist on stoking the conflagration that has become our American lives.  You are put on notice that effective today, you are accountable down to the penny for our money, because, after all, it is our money.  The walls of Congress will no longer be an expression of your xenophobia.  Not only will those walls be transparent, but metaphorically razed so that we have complete access to everything you know about us and our country.

Your personal lives are yours alone.  If you are faithful or unfaithful to your spouse, that is between you and your mate.  Whether you are gay or straight, Christian or Buddhist, fat or thin, from the South or the West, these issues are of no concern.  Again, your private lives are yours alone.  The same is true for us.  Anything to do with our personal lives neither requires nor will tolerate governance.  You will stay out of our bedrooms, our churches, and our doctor’s offices.  As such, we will also not consider those issues when it comes time for your election.  There is room for all of us in our country, not only to be tolerated, but to be celebrated.

I hope you have enjoyed your tenure under the old administration; however, this is a new day.  Everyone from our local dog catcher to our President of the United States is now on notice:  The People rule America.  Anyone who works with a different understanding than that will be removed from office immediately.  If you didn’t like Occupy Wall Street, you will certainly loathe Occupy America!   Only those who understand compromise and collegiality shall inhabit these hallowed halls from now on.

We will return to “E pluribus unum,” or “Out of many, one,” as our national motto.  “In God we Trust,” is exclusive of those who do not believe in a monotheistic god, and is inconsistent with the separation of church and state.  Remember, not one person shall be excluded from our system.  With this mutual understanding in place, let us now begin a new day in camaraderie, equal citizenship, and a vision toward tomorrow as a unified country.  Nothing less will be tolerated.

Thank you for your time and attention.

It’s Not Michelle Bachmann’s Fault


This may surprise my readers who know that I lean toward the political left in my social and economic belief system, but the popularity of Representative Michelle Bachmann, and others of her ilk, is not her fault.  She is not responsible for the voice she has gained on the national stage.  The responsibility rests in our hands.

As Americans, we choose to whom we listen.  We have selective hearing when it comes to national candidates.  We buy newspapers that have her name on them.  We listen to the news when commentators discuss her politics. We click on the links to her interviews.  We are wholly in the driver’s seat of giving Bachmann a sounding board on the national stage.

If we are unhappy that this candidate has free rein to blather on that evolution and global warming are in dispute, or that she would rather not discuss the ability to cure gay folks of their disorder of homosexuality after she wrote about it in her book, then we must stop paying attention.  If the only people who listen are the relatively tiny number of Tea Party supporters, she will never win an election; but listen we continue to do.

I happen to believe in evolution and that it was the process through which God created the world.  I am aware that scientists have been wrong in the past and that they speak the most accurate truth they have available to them today. I believe that there are differences in cultures and that all cultures are equal and valid. I also believe that polarity does not make either side wholly correct or wrong.  I believe that knowledge and wisdom will direct us toward a middle path.

When Ross Perot ran as an Independent for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996, he was considered by many to be too “out there” for the mass consciousness; however, he did garner 29% of the vote.  He had radical, but workable ideas for the economy and understood the machinations of government.  In contrast, Bachmann, and all the Bachmann-lights that have appeared on our political landscape are contenders for our highest office in a major party.  These individuals have a similar level of scientific understanding as the members of the Flat Earth Society, yet they continue to flourish.  How is this even possible?

When they look back on this era, what will historians write about our politics?  Will we have had Michelle Bachmann as the 45th President of the United States?  Will the medical research laboratories in America shut down because she wouldn’t fund research that didn’t fit through the narrow filter of extremist right wing beliefs?  Will people say of us the same thing they say about the German population who followed Adolf Hitler during the 1930s and ’40s: that we just didn’t choose to see what was ahead, or were too afraid to have our voices heard?

The truth is that we are giving credence to an ignoramus who does not understand history, economics, and science.  She is not an ignoramus because of her beliefs, but because she chooses not to learn what every person who inhabits the White House should know; that she represents all Americans, not just a select few.  We are validating her presence on the national stage whenever we do not turn off the television when she is on.  Viewership is money in the hands of the media.  When the dollars disappear, so does Michelle Bachmann.

Michelle Bachmann spoke this direct quote, “I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize I’m not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist.  I’m not a deep thinker on all of this.  I wish I was.  I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

If I’ve learned nothing else in my life, I’ve learned to believe what people tell me about themselves.  I don’t listen to people who admit they don’t know.  I don’t trust people who tell me they have a history of being untrustworthy.  I don’t spend time with people who show me they do not respect me. I turn off the television and don’t click on online links when Michelle Bachmann is the topic.  It’s that simple.

So, if we find Mrs. Bachmann in the White House, who should we turn to when American’s can’t feed themselves even though they’re working, because Bachmann believes that “if we took away the minimum wage – if conceivably it was gone – we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level,” and racial inequality grows under her administration because she believes that “not all cultures are equal?” We must look in our own mirrors to find the responsible parties, as we do after every election.  That is why this will be my last word on Michelle Bachmann.  I choose not to give any more of my time or energy toward her presence in the political whirlpool.

If we find her in our White House, it won’t be Michelle Bachmann’s fault, it will be our own.

Fat Man Economics


I watched a fascinating program, PBS’s “Nova: Mind Over Money,” that debated the concepts of rational economics and behavioral economics relative to the economic crash of 2008.  It was a fascinating discussion about ongoing theoretical research pertaining to how people make choices to spend their money in the financial marketplace, housing, and general spending.  I know nothing about economic theory or practice. What I do know about is eating. I saw a correlation between the two ways people in my life eat and the the way people invest their money.

My father was a stellar picture of good eating and healthy lifestyle to the day he died.  He chose his food based on what was good for him, splurged rarely on his beloved ice cream, and guided our family toward healthy eating patterns.  While living in his home, my weight was within the scope of normalcy.  My nature is to gorge myself on foods I like, and that make me feel good, but that also may cause trouble for me down the road.  My adult freedom to eat as I please has caused me to gain to a difficult 250 pounds on my 5’6″ frame.  My father was an intelligent man and an equally brilliant businessman.  I’d like to believe I am also an intelligent man, but although I take some of my father’s business training, I handle things a bit differently.  What is the difference between us?  I think the answer to that is the same as the question of economic behavior.

My father, like rational economists theorize about investors, did his research on healthy eating, purchased those products that would serve his intended goals, and ensured that everyone in the household ate in the most efficient and healthiest way possible.  His rational behavior and choice making had the desired effect, so he continued this pattern throughout my upbringing.  He stayed within his desired goal weight throughout his life.  He rode his bicycle sometimes 50 miles through alpine country until he was into his golden years.  The challenge was that he was so sure of his patterns that he didn’t listen to his body when it started telling him to slow down and balance out his activities as he grew older. He had developed a health bubble, similar to an economic bubble.  At 60, my father had a massive heart attack and a quintuple bypass.  This unexpected event was devastating to his psyche as well as his body and his business.  He lived with heart trouble for the rest of his life after that, and retired several years later.

When I left home at 16, I felt immense freedom to eat anything I chose.  In retrospect, I realize that the restrictions my parents put on my eating made me feel oppressed.  I didn’t value the healthy body in which I lived because all I saw was that someone else was telling me what to eat.  As I started my own patterns, slowly, I left behind what I had learned and began eating emotionally.  Ten pounds here, 30 pounds there, and over a 30 year period, I gained 120 pounds.  A minor heart attack and two strokes later, I still hadn’t made good choices for myself.  It’s taken my husband’s diagnosis of diabetes for me to recognize the patterns that got me here in the first place at a truly internal level. Immediate gratification and greed have supported my physical growth to unreasonable levels, with all the accompanying medical issues. Mine was a classical case of too much of a good thing. Now, I have to look at the consequences of my choices, and decide how I want to proceed.  My father and I both got the same place, only with different understandings of how we got there.  I’m sure this sounds familiar to economists.

My father’s eating patterns were akin to the economy of the 1940s through 1970s when there was fairly healthy, stable growth, with ups and downs with the exception of the mid-1970s when the economy grew more dismal. He erroneously believed, however, that what had worked in the past would always work for him. He felt pleasure in being healthy and strong.  It was his way of acquisition to extremes. Thus began the 1980s.  In that decade, what would be equivalent to my eating lifestyle, took over.  Ravenous greed, insatiable desire to satisfy one’s emotional needs with “more” became du rigueur.  Not unlike my dietary patterns, it went unabated until the crash of 2008 when the world economy finally cracked under the strain of the weight of emotional or behavorial economic patterns.

The Buddha spoke about a middle path in spirituality that reflects the healthiest system of balance in one’s life.  My father and I both had issues finding that balance.  Physically, he exercised himself into the hospital with restraint and desire for control.  I, on the other hand, ended up in the same place from complacency and aggressive desire for gratification.  The economy joined us in the infirmary of world finance because of the same levels of desire for satisfaction.

Until balance is the desirable mode of operation for financiers and their customers, the pendulum of our economy will continue on its death spiral toward complete collapse.  In the same way, my gastronomic economy must find balance as well.  My measly understanding of economic theory tells me this: Rational economics is the structural thought of our economic choices, and behavioral economics reflects how we actually operate at an emotional level when left to our own devices. With the growing obesity of our nation, both in girth and greed, we are having heart attacks and strokes, but we are not listening as effectively as we should.  Left unchecked, economic death, a la 1929, is our next stop on our path of gluttony, no matter what we call the process defining how we got there.

Debt Super Committee or Tardy Janitorial Service?


Today, Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, announced that in accordance with the bill signed by President Barack Obama recently, he would appoint three of the Democrat senators to the super committee to oversee the reduction of $1.5 trillion of the American debt.  As Senators Patty Murray (D-Washington), Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), and Senator John Kerry (D-Massachussets) were announced, with Sen. Murray being defined as co-chair of this committee, as reported on CNN.com’s website, Sen. Reid declared, “As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee. I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people. (CNN.com, 2011)”

This level of optimism reflects either Sen. Reid’s complete lack of attention to the last several months of debate, or that the universe has shifted in ways utterly unimaginable to the human mind.  If we have learned anything from these last few weeks, we have been sorely reminded that our legislature has little to no empathy for the American people.  We have learned that even the best-intentioned members of Congress have negligible power against those whose singular focus is self-agrandisement.  The activities in the coming months to reduce the debt likely will look no different than the race to August 2 that manifested this bill in the first place. They have simply been invited to clean up the mess that has been growing for the last 10 years.

The Senate and House of Representatives have been given their marching orders to develop a plan to reduce the national debt; however, we already know that the Democrats and Republicans have very different views on how to do this.  We know, too, that their convoluted thought processes will steer them right back into the morass of argumentative, belligerent, and unreasonable behaviors they have so frequently exhibited.  We have seen the bullies and the co-dependents shamelessly operating in full view of the American people; yet we are asked to believe that a bipartisan committee from both houses will be able to hammer out this deal?  Even if they do, will it be accepted on the floors of the House and Senate?  Not without a rhetorical blood bath.

Each party now believes they won part of the previous battle.  Their sense of entitlement is enormous, and they will wield their gimme-ness like maces and axes against those who oppose them, just as they’ve done all along.  Compromise is a sophisticated, sensitive tool that those of breeding, generosity of spirit, and intelligence understand.  The barbarians that currently populate a powerful share of our legislature have shown little of this sophistication. The sole commodity that seems to be in abundance on The Hill is arrogance, and it smells like a giant hill of trash. Not unlike the old adage about the crazy folk being in charge of the asylum, the wastrels are in charge of the disaster area.

As we approach the November 16 deadline for this agreement to be completed by the super committee, we will see the true measure of Congress. It may be that the poor and disabled will benefit from this discussion, health care will be improved, military costs will be kept in check, the wealthy will carry their fair share of the tax burden, and the lion will lay down with the lamb. Yes, it’s all possible, but not probable.  If the past is any indicator, U.S. Janitorial Service, otherwise known as Congress, will likely make a bigger mess than the one they attempt to clean up, and the ones who will have to carry this trash heap on their shoulders into the future are the American people… again.

***

Reference

Walsh, Dierdre (2011) [Reid taps Sen. Murry to co-chair debt committee.] CNN.com.  Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/08/09/debt.committee.appointments/index.html?hpt=hp_t2 on August 9, 2011.

Separate Identities


When I was a boy, if my mother caught my brother and me playing with sticks she would call out, “Stop that or you’re going to put someone’s eye out!”  Occasionally, we would wander out of her line of vision and continue playing with the sticks until one of us got wounded.  Neither of us lost an eye, but we were, as my brilliant mother foresaw, injured nonetheless.  That is what is happening in our economy right now in America and across the globe.  The constituents have been yelling at our leaders, “Make a deal!  Compromise!  Keep us strong, or you’re going to put someone’s eye out!”  Not unlike my brother and me in the land of yesteryear, they didn’t listen.

The Republicans and the Democrats, the Tea Partiers and the Independents have been so focused on being right that they have forgotten about us, the people they were elected to serve.  Our labels have become more important than our economy, our quality of life, and our people.  Raging elephants and stubborn donkeys abound when it comes time to talk about what is best for our country.  As they fight, though, we all lose out in relation to our financial solvency, global economic strength, and respect among our citizens and around the world.

As we watch the S&P and Dow decline, as we watch our credit rating from Standard and Poor dwindle from a AAA to AA+ rating, as we watch people dependent on Social Security, Medicare, and other vital programs become victims of the national hatchet, all sides keep declaring victory in “the fight.”  What are they talking about?  The fight should be about what will keep our people healthiest; about what will keep our country strongest.  It shouldn’t be who gets the highest score in the win column.  What our legislators, and I mean those in every party and faction, need to experience right now is shame.  They should be embarrassed that our country has lost so much from their arrogance.  They should be red-faced that as they stand before the cameras blaming the “other side” for the problems, they have forgotten their abominable role in this process.  Rather they should humbly go before the American people, one by one, and say, “I’m so sorry I haven’t accomplished the work of the people in a dignified and effective manner.  I have shown my lack of focus, and I have behaved in a way that makes me cringe.”

Not one person in any part of government is likely to do that, even in the face of a Gallup poll reflecting a miniscule 18% approval rating of the legislature’s work.  They, and we who support them, have forgotten that before we are Democrats, before we are Republicans, before we are anything in our country, we must be Americans when it comes to the administration of our country.  But, perhaps, in some strange way we are expressing our americanism by being confrontational, angry, and short-sighted.  Who else could claim leaving the comforts of jolly old England for a desolate land like North America for a better life?  Who else has the shame of slavery, native genocide, contemporary classism, and the polarity of such extreme poverty and unimaginable wealth? We were born of a selfish, angry population. Have we changed so much?  Not really.

The year is 2011 and we still have not figured out that we are Americans first after 235 years of existence as a nation.  We have proof.  Just look at every facet of American life.  We must insist on our legislators working together with dignity, honor, and good faith as they go forward from here.  We must rally for unity, respect for others’ opinions, and a pattern of listening rather than blustering rhetoric.  Is it possible?  Certainly.  Is it likely?  I don’t know.

The Station Lounge in Roseville


A victim of a Roseville ordinance.

The Station on a Saturday night.

On the eve of my most recent birthday, I had the opportunity to attend my friend, Rick Dean’s première performance at The Station Lounge in Roseville.  He offered marvelous music and charming banter, worthy of a large crowd; however, there were only a few people present, most of whom were his family and friends.  It was 9:00 PM on a Saturday night in July, with cool, beautiful weather in a 4,620 square foot building, charmingly developed out of rail cars and good taste.  Where was the crowd?

Within the hour, I heard a story that explained the vast emptiness.  It was beyond belief.  It was a story not all together unfamiliar to me, though, as I had first read about it in the Sacramento News & Review (SN&R) only the day before.  The July 14, 2011 article, entitled “Footloose in Roseville,” reflects on the downward spiral that The Station, and its owner, known only as Travis, has seen burgeon in the last year since the City of Roseville Planning and Development director, Paul Richardson, and his team revamped the zoning requirements a year ago. This rezoning, and the subsequent ordinance amendment, prohibits dancing without the correct permits. These changes are purportedly to prevent nightclubs within 500 feet of residential areas from impinging on the quiet of local citizens.  The only problem is that since Travis and his team took over The Station in 2008, there have only been two complaints.  Two.

According to the City of Roseville Planning and Redevelopment website, restaurants must apply for a zoning clearance permit for any dancing that is not school, church, or non-profit agency related.  The Station, currently zoned as Residential Commercial, is subject to this ordinance.  According to Travis, he has applied for zoning as Community Commercial, which facilitates dance permits.  The problem is that Travis must attend hearings for the zoning change, and the red tape keeps growing by hills and mountains.

Sign on the front door of The Station Lounge

During the planning stages, the ordinance, amending Chapter 9.40 of the Municipal Code, described “no significant fiscal impact.”  They must have been talking about impact on the city, because there has been a huge impact to The Station.  According to the SN&R article, The Station’s manager, Brian Vokal, reported that they are losing $7,000 per month in revenue from this ordinance, and $11,000 in fines.  “Fines?” you ask.  Yes, fines. Nearly nightly, Roseville police officers arrive to inspect the premises to ensure that no one is dancing at The Station; or more specifically, that no “movement of the human body accompanied by music or rhythm,” occurs.  This is the verbatim language in the ordinance; language used on the required notice posted on the door of the establishment.  In other words, if music is playing, no one can dance, tap their foot, snap their fingers, be-bop to the lavatory, or anything else.  One must sit still as the music plays.  If there is silence, apparently, one can dance up a storm, perhaps to the level of the whirling dervishes.  This requirement is not just theory.

Travis related a story  that one evening, during a police visit, an elderly woman unfamiliar with the issues at hand, began walking to the bathroom.  As she was doing so, she began swaying to the music playing over the speakers.  As she passed a table full of regular patrons, one of them took her arm, seated her in a chair, and explained the situation, narrowly avoiding yet another fine for The Station.

Why is this transpiring?  Is The Station Lounge, at 1100 Orlando Avenue in Roseville, a haven for drug dealing, violence, racism, or bad taste?  No, no, no, and no.  The beautiful facility welcomes everyone who wants to have a good time, be respectful, enjoy delicious food, listen to music, and hopefully, dance someday.  The focus of the evenings throughout the week include, Country night, Latin night, an evening for those of us “of a certain age,” and  those who enjoy drag shows. The Station and its owners, Travis and his wife, Gail, are genuinely welcoming when one arrives at their establishment. The serving staff and managers treat their customers as respected friends.

Jeff Nichols, a relatively recent addition to The Station community, said that when he first came in, he felt, “so welcome, learning to Western Country swing dance,” before the ordinance took effect.  He animatedly reflected how much he loves that, “every night is different” at The Station Lounge.

So, if The Station is such a grand place to meet and have fun in a safe environment, then what is going on? One might want to ask Paul Richardson, the director of the Office of Planning and Development for the City of Roseville.  He and his team have invested in the redevelopment of the historic section of downtown Roseville.  It’s lovely… and empty.  Not the best investment so far of $13 million, one might say.  The fascinating part of this development is that restaurants and nightclubs in the redeveloped area are exempt from the “no dance” ordinance. A $13 million redeveloped, historic downtown – no ordinance.  An established place of business outside the redeveloped section – ordinance.

The worst part of this is that the person who spearheaded this ordinance was Paul Richardson.  This is the same Paul Richardson who pushed through the $13 million dollar redevelopment of Historic Roseville. One would think that in this economy, Roseville would be deeply interested in elevating every business to increase tax revenue, transportation and entertainment revenue, and diversity-friendly environments in the area.  When a smaller community is so close to a larger metropolis, such as Sacramento, one surmises that a city like Roseville would rush to support its own activities and draw people from surrounding areas, such as Lincoln, Citrus Heights, and Folsom to their fair burg. It seems that Roseville is more interested in bringing people to only one part of town.  The only problem, no one is coming.  One must wonder if The Station is suffering from the putrid stench of conflict of interest and bad planning festering in the City Planning and Redevelopment office.  But, how would I know?  I’m not a lawyer, Roseville community leader, or even a resident of this lovely town.  I will say, though, that it sure smells unpleasant from here. A friend of mine, Judy, who is more well-versed on these types of matters than I, and not given to hyperbole, wrote about this topic, “I find this idiocy upsetting and think it should be exposed for the lunacy it is. Agree?  Land of the free? Not in Roseville, CA.”

So, what happens to The Station Lounge?  Time will tell.  As the fines get paid, the zoning hearings move forward, and the stalwart patrons quietly, and with as little movement as possible, attempt to keep this business… and their community… alive, Roseville Police daily continue to spend their precious time, often reluctantly, if patrons’ descriptions are believed, observing and fining this venue for the crime of dancing.

Everyone who hears this tale reiterates the SN&R correlation to the 1984 movie, “Footloose.”  Only in this case, Paul Richardson is John Lithgow’s character, Reverend Shaw Moore; The Station owner, Travis is Lori Singer’s character, Ariel Shaw, the person who supports the lead character; and Kevin Bacon’s character, Ren McCormack is played by a swingin’ elderly lady on her way to the bathroom.

January 1, 2011


As we approach the new year of 2011, I can’t help but remember my father’s observation as a pharmacist in the 1980s.  He said, “We’ve had more changes in the last 50 years in medicine than in all the years prior.”  Of course, the changes that transpired in those immediately previous 50 years emerged from the foundation of work by generations of scientists.  After all, the first concocted antibiotic wasn’t developed until sulfanilamide and penicillin in the early part of the 20th century.   As I contemplate the last 100 years, inspired by the recent loss of my great-uncle Gene at 103, I took a gander at what he had seen in his lifetime.

In the last 10 decades, we’ve seen the Nobel Prize for physics go to Madame Marie Curie (France) for the discovery of the elements, radium and polonium in 1911.  50 years later, in 1961,  this same prize was awarded to Robert Hofstadtler (United States) for his determination of the shape and size of atomic nuclei.  A mere 10 years ago, in 2001, the award went to Wolfgang Ketterle (Germany), Eric A. Cornell, and Carl E. Wieman (United States), for discovering a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate [1].  Imagine!  A new state of matter, theorized by Albert Einstein, but not proved until this group did so.  This year, we will see new weights established for the periodic table.  We have seen the extinction of animals and diseases and the rise of others.

As we enter 2011, diving into the year 5772 in the Hebrew calendar, 4708 in the Chinese calendar, 1432 in the Islamic calendar, or the Mayan long count of 12.19.18.0.0, our lives have been changed dramatically by many events.  We have seen wars and conflicts in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, to name a few.   The Berlin Wall has been built and destroyed.  Cultural revolutions have fulmugated around the world.  We have witnessed the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of an African-American president of the United States.  

We have seen unfathomable growth and challenges in the last century including the change in perception between the First World War when little was thought about homosexuals at all to the current day when homosexuals will be allowed to openly serve in the military.   We have moved from a time when a Black person couldn’t marry a White person to today when gays are marrying in some states in the U.S.  The economy has seen boons and busts throughout the century including the Great Depression in the 1930s.  Here are some other interesting tidbits:

Year     Fed. Spending [2]   Fed. Debt [2]  Postage [3]  UI Rate [4]

                   (In billions)             (In billions)

1911          $           .69               $           0.o          $ .02              6.7%

1961                  97.72                        292.6             .04               5.5%

2001            1,864.00                   5,807.o              .34               4.8%

2011            3,833.90                    1,266.7              .46               9.6%

I suppose with all this reminiscing about our past, the next logical step would be to imagine what will be in our future.  I’d rather not.  Not because I think things will be worse, but because it won’t serve any purpose.  The real question is, where are we now? 

On a personal level, I have lost my entire adopted family of origin, but I have found my family of birth.  I have encountered family members from seven generations born between 1881 and 2003.  I’ve changed careers from working in a pharmacy in the 1970s to being a music educator  today.  I’ve had the pleasure to see my husband, children, and grandchildren all working toward growing their successes.  I have returned to school to complete my education.  If my family is a microcosm of America, which it may be, then one can extrapolate that although things have been tough, we have our eyes on making things better.  We are stepping back to get a good view of where we are, and taking steps to improve our situation. 

January 1, 2011, is, I suspect, a preparatory time toward a major shift in our lives.  We, as a family and as a country, are readying ourselves for a giant leap forward.  What shape that will take, I don’t know.  We are talking about our spirits.  We are valuing our children in a more vibrant way.  We are demanding a better education for them.  We are begging for art and beauty.  We are striving for unity.  These are all good things that I believe will make us stronger, wiser, and more solid as a national and world community. 

I welcome the coming new year with everything it has to bring.  Gratitude permeates every fiber of my being as I look forward to the forthcoming 365 days.   So, in that gratitude, I say in anticipation of the coming celebration, Happy New Year and welcome to 2011!

_____________________________

References

 [1] Infoplease.com (2010) List of Nobel Prize winners for Physics.  Retrieved from  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0105785.html

 [2] USGovernmentSpending.com (2010) [Data] Retrieved fromhttp://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2011_0.html

[3] U.S. Postal Service (2010) News Release:  New Rates Retrieved from  http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2010/pr10_064.htm

[4] Forcasts.org (2010) Unemployment figures (Data) Retrieved from http://www.forecasts.org/unemploy.htm

(2010) “Happy New Year 2011” [Photograph] Retrieved from http://win7dl.com

(2010) “Human Arrow” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://ypg-prioryroad.com

(2010) “Marie Curie” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://reich-chemistry.wikispaces.com

Governor Attacks the Poor… Again


According to a recent report from NBC affilliate, KCRA 3 in Sacramento, California, Governor Schwarzenegger has once again carved into the lives of the poor, the young, the infirmed, and those least able to bear the edge of his economic scalpel.

Programs like Cal-WORKS, which is the  work-for-welfare program, mental health services, foster parent programs, and other necessary departments are being slashed to accommodate the $20 billion shortfall.  According to the report, this budget reduction will affect 1.4 million people in the third largest state in the union.  With a total population of 38,292,687 California citizens, that means that over 3.5% of the people in the Golden State are going to have to decide what to do in response to this situation.

One must wonder whether the highest paid administrators in state government are taking cuts in their pay, or if there is going to be a reduction in any of their benefits. 

The lame duck governor has also indicated that a budget will not be signed that is not accompanied by budget and pension reforms.   That is akin to saying that we must have better architectural plans for a barn that is currently burning.   I’m certain that in Governor Schwarzenegger’s mind he is trying to avoid future issues of this type; however, as is spoken in the vernacular, he is “a day late and a dollar short.” 

Click here for "Governor Schwarzenothing"

It was less than a year ago, we were discussing the the fact that the governor was flexing his muscles in areas that were not a top priority for the majority of Californians. 

Programs such as research grants, expansion of prisons and universities, secondary transportation activities that are not being supplemented by the federal government, and parks and recreation should be cut long before programs that support children and the ill.  

There should be three rules of thumb by which the governor reviews the budget:

1.  Does this item support our children in any way?

2.  Does this item support physical and mental health care for the largest number of people?

3.  Does this item promote employment in the state?

Anything else should be eligble for reduction. 

The ironic thing is that after all these years contending with Governor Schwarenegger, we’re finally realizing that he doesn’t meet any of these criteria. 

Hey! that gives me an idea!

________________________  

For great websites presented directly to you, go to:  http://alphainventions.com/

Reference:  http://www.kcra.com/politics/23553612/detail.html

The Invisible Gay Dollar


What if on June 9, 2010, (6/9 for those who enjoy a naughty giggle), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stopped buying anything across the country?  What would happen to the American economy?

In very loose numbers, it is estimated that in 2006, $660 billion were spent by the LGBT community in 2006.  That number is expected to rise to $835 billion in 2011.  I’ve seen numbers that indicate as much as over two trillion dollars will be spent by the LGBT community in 2012.  Even if any of these numbers are off by a few billion, the numbers are truly staggering.

The LGBT community has the power to put a dent in our economy, and yet, we don’t know our own strength.  If we don’t know it, how can anyone else feel that power?

It makes sense to validate that most efficient force by damming up the economic river for just a moment in time. 

Here is the plan for June 9, 2010:

Every member of the LGBT and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) communities will commit to:

1.  not purchase one item of food, clothing, equipment, or anything else on this day, including eating out or buying a cup of coffee;

2.  not buy or trade one stock or bond in any stock market in the world;

3.  withdraw 0.1% of your money from every account you own (e.g. If you have $1,000.00, you would withdraw $1.00 and if you have $100, you would withdraw $0.10);

4.  not donate one item to charity;

5.  not go to work or school for at least half a day;

6.  not use a computer or cell phone for one day;

7.  not use any electricity or gas that is not life-preserving;

8.  not drive anywhere in your automobile;

9.  do whatever else you feel is appropriate, healthy, and safe to make an economic statement about the strength of the LGBT community;

10. Finally, to make June 9 a day of silence to reflect the silence our country is asking us to provide regarding our needs, including equal access to marriage, health care, law, education, and employment. 

Be sure to contact your legislator by June 8 to advise them of your intentions. 

We have seven-and-a-half months to prepare.  In that time, we can clearly create the environment that well over half of our country wishes from us.  This will certainly let them know, “Watch what you wish for!”

What happens if the LGBT and PFLAG community disappeared and we took our money and expertise with us?  We’d have a pretty good idea about the impact of that situation, wouldn’t we?

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me on my Facebook page, June 9, 2010 – Invisible Gay Day.