What is John Boehner's job?
While I know Ohio Republican John Boehner is Speaker of the House, I'm pretty much unaware of what he actually does.
I know he dislikes President Barack Obama, is against health care for the uninsured, and often does not allow the House to Representatives to vote on issues. Those votes would inform ordinary citizens of how their individual representatives stand.
What exactly is his job? Is Boehner the representative of the tea party, ensuring that other Republicans -- who aren't afraid of the tea party -- can't state their opinions? Does he have any knowledge of how ordinary citizens live and how loss of jobs, government benefits and entitlements affect their lives?
Boehner, one of those 257 millionaires in Congress, hasn't any idea of the needs of average Americans.
Removal of congressional representatives who simply don't care about anyone but themselves would be a good start to stop future government shutdowns. And removal of Boehner would be an excellent start.
Geraldine N. Judt
Sierra Club and Albany Bulb
The Sierra Club, in joining with Citizens for East Shore Parks to lobby for incorporation of the Bulb into East Shore Parks, presents a very troubling image of the group.
The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the club, in the May issue of its newspaper, the Yodeler, stated the rationale for its action. The article is titled "Changing the Albany Bulb -- creating a bright spot on the East Bay Shoreline."
Apparently, in order to "create a bright spot," the first step requires evicting the people who are camping there; people for whom the Bulb is home.
Why is this Sierra Club chapter participating in evicting people? The mission of the Sierra Club is the maintenance and protection of the environment for the enjoyment of the people. It does not mean only certain people, only the "right kind" of people.
In recounting some Bulb history, The Yodeler article said, "In the 1990s, people started camping illegally on the Bulb, and in 1999 the city ... removed that camper population, but the land was again left unprotected."
From what, or from whom did the land need to be protected? From people who cared for it as their home, who planted trees, made trails, worked at mitigating rebar and concrete hazards on the site? Protected from people who created works of art out of found materials, set up and operated a free lending library?
One might ask the question, why now? Why do the Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks demand the Bulb be incorporated into the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park at this time? The Bulb juts out from the shoreline and would not be an integral part of the park, nor would any section of the Bay Trail go through the Bulb.
With a few amenities, such as toilets and running water, and possibly some help in getting rid of the rebar and concrete, it could continue to serve as a campground -- at least until Albany can provide proper housing for homeless people.
I was a longtime Sierra Club member and photo editor of The Yodeler but have resigned in protest.
Make BART strikes illegal
The decision of the BART unions to call a strike gives all labor unions a bad name.
They apparently didn't want a fair deal -- they wanted a knockout punch or a pin to the mat. These unions have shown such utter disregard for the public that their right to strike should be outlawed.
Being that too many Sacramento legislators are beholden to the unions and their campaign contributions, the best vehicle to get transit strikes outlawed is probably Orinda Councilman Steve Glazer's petition.
The petition should be signed until it qualifies for the ballot. If it gets on the ballot, despite massive union expenditures to defeat it, it might well pass.
BART management is hardly deserving of sainthood, but the unions have overplayed their hand and have forfeited their right to strike in the future. They should have declared victory weeks ago, but a mere win wasn't enough for them.
Chevron being attacked again
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin can't leave Chevron alone. She rants at Chevron about everything and now it's the Ecuador oil spill.
McLaughlin has done her own "research" regarding the spill and apparently she feels she knows the real facts, which were given to her by her fellow "greenies" in Ecuador. She won't talk to Chevron about the spill because she feels everything they say will be lies.
But we should listen to her side, since she "knows" what happened. Maybe it's McLaughlin who is lying.
Some of the city leaders constantly criticize Richmond's largest employer and taxpayer. The refinery fire last year was a terrible thing and Chevron has admitted they were are fault. Chevron reimbursed some 24,000 local residents. Probably 90 percent of the claims were attempts to gouge Chevron for everything they could get.
When the environmental impact report for Chevron's new hydrogen plant comes out next year, every environmentalist and greenie will come out against it. Guess who will be their leader: Richmond's answer to the Three Stooges, Mayor McLaughlin.
Supporting the BART workers
Workers everywhere seem to be fighting a losing battle to keep wages in line with inflation, to keep decent health-care benefits, to keep a retirement plan that will allow security after a lifetime of work.
The BART workers aren't asking for much: a pay increase after five years of a wage freeze, and worker safety rules. The tragic death of two workers during the strike should show why such rules are needed.
They have already agreed to paying a larger portion of the costs of their health care and pension.
Meanwhile, inequality in this country's growing, with the stock market once again happily ballooning upward and CEO salaries thousands of times higher than what the workers in their companies earn.
That's why I support the BART workers. We are all linked to the standards set by other workers when they say: "I'm paying more for my health care ... I haven't had a wage increase in years."
I'm proud of the BART workers and their union for saying "no;" they won't join this race to the bottom. And when I negotiate my contract, I want to be able to say, "The BART workers stood up and they won."