Monday, August 31, 2009

Ted Kennedy Buried; Next Generation Heeds Call

During a light afternoon rain shower, according to the New York Times: "The nation said final farewell on Saturday to Edward M. Kennedy, who used his privileged life to give consistent, passionate voice to the underprivileged for nearly a half-century as a United States senator from Massachusetts. He was the only one of four fabled Kennedy brothers to reach late adulthood, and he was remembered for making the most of it."

It is a testament to this last of the Kennnedy's in high public office that his eulogy was presented by our president, Barack Obama. Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama's candidacy was a moment where the "torch" was passed to Obama and the next generation. You knew it when it happened.

Some will say this wraps up the "Camelot" theme of the post-WWII Kennedy's. Yet Ted's own words live on, echoing even today, "the dream shall never die."

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

HR 3200 Helps North San Luis Obispo

Our final look at how our government can help us in north San Luis Obispo county via the House Resolution (HR 3200) also titled "America’s Affordable Health Choices Act."

Affordable is the keyword. It would provide significant benefits in the 22nd Congressional District represented by Congressman Kevin McCarthy. The district spans north San Luis Obispo county across to most of Kern county.
Up to 12,200 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees;

10,200 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D;

1,300 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $48 million in uncompensated care each year and

107,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
A note about financial security. There have been 1,300 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

Coverage of the uninsured? There are 130,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 17% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 107,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.

Best of all, there's no deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals.

This surtax would affect only 2,710 households in the district. So less than one percent of all people living in this district would pay a little more to share the benefits this country has shared with them. 99.1% of all taxpayers in the district would not be affected by the surtax.

Surely these 2700 people (.9%) could have it in their heart to follow in the steps of the Great Healer and help those less fortunate than themselves. They might even smile more for having done a good deed for their fellow man--a deed which will last a long, long time.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

HR 3200 Benefits For 24th Congressional District

Here's the second summary of HR 3200 benefits for those of us fortunate to live on the Central Coast inside the blue line of the 24th Congressional District.

668,099 (est.) of your neighbors are represented by Congressman Elton Gallegly in this district, spanning from north Santa Barbara county (Lompoc) to Ventura and some of L.A. counties. Benefits for you:
Up to 15,000 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees;

10,000 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D;

1,000 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs;

Health care providers would receive payment for $48 million in uncompensated care each year and

64,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
How do we pay for this? The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals.

That's 2.2% or 6,620 households and here's hoping these high net-worth people will decide the right thing to do is to "pay it forward."

Next: what the facts are in northern San Luis Obispo and the 22nd Congressional District.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

HR 3200 Health Care Reform Benefits For You

Some staffers on the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce have been burning the midnight oil to get the facts straight for the Central Coast on HR 3200, also known as "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009."

They have crunched the numbers and for 639,088 people living in Lois Capps' 23rd Congressional District, the coastal areas of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, it breaks down like this:
Up to 15,700 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees;

4,100 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D;

350 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs;

Health care providers would get payment for $50 million in uncompensated care each year and

148,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
I'll post what the picture looks like for our other two districts in the next two days. You're welcome!

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Arnold: Let's Have A Garage Sale!

Probably had to happen. Call it out-of-the-box thinking or just a desperate move to grab tv time on the networks. The L.A. Times has the details.

Our Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is now using Craigslist and eBay to sell surplus state items. More than 500 state cars are on the auction block. Arnold has even autographed one of the car's visors and it sold for $1,625; the rest of the car went for $.01!

Heck, I'd buy an autographed copy of his 2008 proposed state budget, (even though not one of his original budget proposals has ever been passed without a summer's worth of wrangling.)

What we know in our hearts is this: Arnold makes a much better action movie hero than a governor. In the theater we get what we pay for.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Private Insurers Are The Death Panels

Those people protesting the "Obamacare" health insurance reform probably understand one thing. The private insurers such as UnitedHealth make money by denying treatment. Simple as that.

Here's a story from a syndicated, professional writer, Froma Harrop.

Hers is a heartbreaking story. I'm sure there are other wrenching tales from our neighbors here on the central coast, in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. Big towns, little towns.

The public option must be part of the legislation. Give people the choice to keep their own private insurance--or choose the option. Just ask yourself--can I really afford my health insurance now? Could I afford a 20% rise in cost next year?

You know the answer, the only one, must come from what we pass into legislation this year.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Together We Can Have Better Health Insurance!

Show this YouTube clip to all of your friends. Then show it to any "tea-bag protesters" you also might know or be, ahem, related to.

Why we need Government-run, universal, socialized health insurance. Since "we" are the government, we can have this, but we have to work for it.

There's a bit of effort involved...much like it took effort to elect Barack which gave us this first chance to improve our life and world. There will be many other opportunities for improvement.

First, this test. Then the lesson follows. Welcome to the big school room of life.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Lois Capps Is Where The Action Is!

Some central coast conservatives question where Lois Capps is in the health care reform debate. Lemme show you:

Little more than ten days ago, on the 13th, Lois and her supporters were gathered at the intersection of Reason St. and Health Care Reform Avenue. Actually the address is in the 300 block of East Carrillo Street, where Capps' office is located.

Demonstrators showed they cared about their neighbors and family members by supporting President Obama's healthcare reform efforts now taking shape in Congress. Those supporting the president outnumbered those opposed.

When will Lois actually meet with the "teabaggers" and other protesters? Capps has stated she intends to hold a community forum in early September, preferably in a church where health care opponents presumably might be less rowdy and boisterous.

Heck, they might even bring their ability to reason and act like adults!

Just ask your parents or grandparents if Medicare and Social Security assistance is something they would prefer to live without. Oh, if your loved one is a veteran, ask if they would care if the Veterans Administration stopped all their health care treatment and prescription drug supply.

Not likely that any of the people you love would give up these successful programs that the governed--you and I and our parents or grandparents--voted to create.

In my case, I'm alive and have post-stroke medication and doctor's appointments at my central coast veterans clinic. Beats pushing daisies!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Does Lompoc Need A Walmart "Superstore?"

Another question to pose: how many Lompoc grocery stores will close if Walmart expands its own grocery department and creates a "superstore?"

History shows us that's the among the possible consequences if the expansion is allowed. WalmartWatch puts it this way: "...the factor that Lompoc officials have ignored is that another big grocery store will lead to one or two empty grocery stores anyway. The “saturation” in Lompoc is not just liquor licenses---its grocery stores as well, and adding the new supercenter brings no added value to the Lompoc economy."

According to the Lompoc Record, the proposed expansion to a Super Walmart would add 47,000 square feet to the building by growing to the west and the north. Essentially expanding toward the airport. The automotive section would be rebuilt into store space, and the grocery section expanded to offer a wider variety of products.

Take a look at the project information and draft version of the Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) available at the Lompoc Public Library, at City Hall, and on the city’s Web site for review. The public review period ends Sept. 14. Review comments can be sent to Lucille T. Breese at the address shown above or

A scoping meeting, to identify the potential categories of environmental impacts the store expansion might cause, will be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday the 26th, at City Hall.

If enough Lompoc residents respond, the expansion can be stopped.

According to a list released this week by, Wal-Mart Stores has abandoned a record-shattering 45 proposed projects over the past 10 months and another 19 Wal-Mart projects have been killed by local citizen's groups. In total, the world's largest retailer has suffered an historic loss of 64 projects.

During the early 2000s, Wal-Mart had as many as 350 “dark stores” on the market. The number of dead stores today is around 200.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome Lompoc's New Mayor Siminski!

Now I can stop holding my breath because the Lompoc City Council has named one of its own to fill the empty Mayor's office. On a 3-1 vote, they selected five-term councilman Mike Siminski for the post.

Siminski made it clear during the replacement process that he would not run for mayor in 2010.

The runner-up by (80 votes) in the last mayoral election, John Linn, said he'd continue to seek the city's highest elective office next year.

The tally for mayor last election shows 61.78% of the voters wanted someone other than Dick DeWees for the office. DeWees garnered 38.03% of the vote.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Newsstand Greg with Dave on KVEC 920AM

From time to time, Dave Congalton invites me to be a guest on his afternoon talk show on AM 920, KVEC. He invited me this week to provide counterpoint to the volatile town hall meetings across the country this month.

The topic: how does using inappropriate language in a public forum affect the discussion of how to reform our current expensive health care system?

This also gives me the moment to introduce replays of my radio call-in comments and later, my own produced podcast episodes, right here!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Does Local Talk Radio Speak For You?

What do you think of local AM radio? Is there a "hometown" host you listen to? Is there a philosophical spin to the type of talk you prefer? How important is it that listeners can call in? Do facts really matter?

According to published program schedules, with few exceptions*, the central coast has four or fewer hours each weekday anchored by informative, local listener call-in talk show programming. Total: little more than 20 afternoon hours a week.

The Central Coast of California has no local, call-in talk shows scheduled before noon. The out-of-town, big name, nationally syndicated programs are the morning rule on central coast AM radio. Does this really serve your public interest on the public (FCC regulated) airwaves?

Today's talk shows consist of a personality relating his/her own conservative or liberal philosophy. They may or may not take calls. You already know which is more often heard on local radio. Our stations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria cannot seem to find a way to have a local talk show host for more than four afternoon hours a day.

Santa Barbara has even less--one weekday hour a day--on 1490AM KIST, "The Nick and Paul Show." Ventura county has it four times better with a four-hour local morning show on 1520AM, KVTA.

*Ed note: San Luis Obispo has it better than most--but in the afternoon. While Dave Congalton is on 920AM KVEC from 3 to 7pm, Bill Benica is talking on 1340AM KYNS from 3 till 5pm.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Could You Pass The US Citizenship Test?

Lately in the broadcast and cable news channels, there is all this "birther" controversy challenging President Obama's birth status and therefore his eligibility to be qualified to hold the highest office in the land. Was Barack Obama born in the USA?

Is the president's birth certificate authentic? All questions about it have been proven false and it's been totally debunked as early as October, 2008, in the Chicago Tribune.

In any event, every US citizen knows the "birth" qualification for the office: “No Person except a natural born citizen, or a Citizen of the United States … shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Acts of Congress in 1790 and 1795 clarify that “the children of citizens of the United States … shall be considered as natural born citizens.”

All Americans are assumed to know the basics of their government and how it works. My question: could you pass the test for US Citizenship?

Go ahead, take the test. You'll be glad you did!

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Remembering Dick DeWees

Here's a tribute to the late Mayor, created by Inga McCullough.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Paying My Respects to Mr. DeWees

The passing of our Lompoc mayor, Dick Dewees, late last Thursday came as a shock to me. He was 61 and had recent heart problems. I met him at a Lompoc Rotary meeting when he was a guest speaker.

The news spread far and wide throughout the state all day Friday. The Lompoc paper Friday edition had already gone to press, so Saturday featured a full front page memorial and condolences.

I did not know the man very well, but I respected his ability to handle the top job and campaign for it as often as he did: six times. He was a jovial man with a warm laugh and will be missed.

At the moment, city leadership continues with the City council which has 30 days to decide how to fill the now vacant mayor's seat. The council can either 1) appoint a new mayor, or 2) vote to spend $120,000 for a special election.

Councilwoman Ann Ruhge was quoted in the Lompoc Record issue dated July 19, saying that she "is seriously considering making a run for mayor." (At the moment, KSBY is the only news organization calling Mrs. Ruhge, Lompoc's "mayor pro-tem.")

Ruhge also stated she would not oppose Mayor DeWees if he should decide to run again. The 2010 city election is 16 months from now.

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