Monica Smith – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Sat, 09 Dec 2017 14:40:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Monica Smith – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dew3_mh4feed.png http://likethedew.com 88 31 A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics 110899633 Of Banksters and HSAs http://likethedew.com/2017/01/10/of-banksters-and-hsas/ http://likethedew.com/2017/01/10/of-banksters-and-hsas/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 06:30:22 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=66084

Caduceus $

HSA stands for Health Savings Account, which is what Congress wants to substitute for the ACA to get them off the hook doing what they don’t want to do anyway — provide for the general welfare. The “general welfare” is such a plebeian assignment and never done! Privatization, here we come!

The problem is that bankers (who populate local chambers of commerce, which groom upcoming public officials to send them to Congress) rely on circulating money to generate revenue. For some time now (since the high of 1992), the rate at which money circulates has been falling steadily–i.e. there are fewer opportunities for bankers to take a cut (dip into the passing stream). So, since the rate of flow seems impossible for bankers to effect (credit card users are balking, student loans have been shifted to the U.S. Treasury, housing borrowing is flat, millennial are riding the bus instead of borrowing to buy cars, and Congress keeps sequestering the bucks), the logical alternative is to increase the stream from which they dip.

So far, when payments from the Treasury to the health care industry are direct, that flow of money is out of the bankers reach. Diverting dollars into health savings accounts would make them accessible to the bankers’ lust.

Bankers, traders in currency instead of slaves, are the problem. Occupy Wall Street shone a light on that. Unfortunately, the focus on Wall Street has been distracted by the Dude’s Mexican Wall. So, what’s needed is a renewed focus on the banksters from a different perspective.

I’m ambivalent between “financial vipers” and “viperous finance.” Instead of snake oil salesmen, we’re best by financial vipers. While I like snakes, vipers are probably an apt symbol of deception and greed.

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74 Years an Evacuee http://likethedew.com/2016/10/17/74-years-an-evacuee/ http://likethedew.com/2016/10/17/74-years-an-evacuee/#respond Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:33:05 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=65295
Monica and her mother, 1942

Monica and her mother, 1942

The first time I was evacuated was in early 1942, at the age of nine months. The allies bombing the German City of Aachen every night had become too traumatic, so my mother took her babe and fled to the Austrian Alps.

So, I spent the next three years in this rustic farm building: two rooms and a veranda and outhouse on the second floor; wood storage, bake oven and chicken coop on the first; no electricity; no running water.

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Last night I slept in a metal storage shed because the house we are rehabbing on the mainland had just been sprayed with foam insulation and wasn’t fit to stay in. Well, that’s not the entire reason. Had I been willing to show my identification papers to the authorities, I could have returned with my spouse to Saint Simons Island when it “re-opened.” But, that’s not something I can do.

You see, back in the 1940s and long after, the countries of Europe insisted on restricting residence to permittees. The Austrian authorities had obviously issued permits to my mother and me, because that’s how they knew where to find us and issue an eviction notice after Germany was defeated and no longer an Austrian ally. I remember the overnight journey from Austria to Munich well. It took the freight train a whole night to make a trip of a couple of hours under normal conditions.

But, when we arrived in the rubble yard that used to be the Munich train terminal and got out of the freight train, there was nobody demanding papers in a city being administered by the U.S. military. Nobody impeded our trek to the home of friends, who just knew we were going to arrive when it became public knowledge that the Austria was throwing people out. I remember it well because, as a four-year old I espied a button in the wall, pushed it and discovered that, though a street-side wall was being held up by a giant wooden beam, the doorbell still worked and we were admitted with lots of hugs and smiles.

When I was eight, my mother decided she didn’t like married life and evacuated us to California to start a new life. That, too, required a permit, which was issued by the U.S. immigration and naturalization service, with no strings. We could settle in Los Angeles and my mother could become employed almost immediately. No work permit required.

To make a long story short, let me just report that because of a peripatetic parent, I was evacuated to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile and Manhattan before settling in the Bronx and then removing myself to Washington D.C. Although I was issued citizenship papers in 1955, nobody ever asked for them.

Indeed, it was only because I thought I might want to go overseas in 1989 and applied for copies from the Department of Immigration because mine had burnt up along with our house in 1974 (another evacuation!) that I discovered the Federal bureaucracy couldn’t locate them either and issued a new version upon my word that I am who I am.

Not until I went to renew my Georgia license to drive last year was I ever asked for those papers. Never mind that U.S citizenship has absolutely nothing to do with whether one is qualified to operate a motor vehicle.

I produced my papers, but I suspect I secretly vowed not to participate in that charade again. So, when it was announced that in order to return to my home on Saint Simons Island, after having dutifully evacuated in the face of Hurricane Matthew, I would have to show proof of residence, I balked. After all, this “papers please” regimen was not in force the last time we evacuated for Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Not only were there no check points between north Florida and our house. There wasn’t any traffic for 145 miles. Besides, wasn’t it the “Papiere, bitte” people from which Americans were sent to liberate the citizens of Europe. Why are we putting up with them here at home?

Because segregation, it seems, is a really hard habit to break. Get rid of one kind and another rears its ugly head. That and the bureaucratic desire to keep peripatetic populations in check. Going where your own two feet can take you is, of course, the essence of liberty. Any evacuee will attest to that.

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Jobs Produced by Investment? http://likethedew.com/2016/06/20/jobs-produced-by-investment/ http://likethedew.com/2016/06/20/jobs-produced-by-investment/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:36:52 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=64273

Employment Applications Not Being Accepted

That’s a question I asked in connection with our utility’s plan to make $41 million in capital improvements in the next five years. The consultant who put together the list and the necessary funding strategies for the JWSC claimed that was a question he’d never considered.

In trying to find an answer to how many jobs are produced by a million dollar investment, I discover that it’s a question that is being asked all around the globe, but no firm answers are forthcoming. Everything’s relative and depends on local conditions. Duh!

Searching, I found the Italian Catholic Federation (ICF.org) has published a chapter 0n various aspects of the topic, but it’s largely about conditions outside the US. However, that chapter referenced an MIT article about the job creation effects of a Walmart retail establishment. A precis of the article by Emek Basker reads:

This paper estimates the effect of Wal-Mart expansion on retail employment at the county level. Using an instrumental variables approach to correct for both measurement error in entry dates and endogeneity of the timing of entry, I find that Wal-Mart entry increases retail employment by 100 jobs in the year of entry. Half of this gain disappears over the next five years as other retail establishments exit and contract, leaving a long-run statistically significant net gain of 50 jobs. Wholesale employment declines by approximately 20 jobs due to Wal-Mart’s vertical integration. No spillover effect is detected in retail sectors in which Wal-Mart does not compete directly, suggesting Wal-Mart does not create agglomeration economies in retail trade at the county level.

This is a conclusion that supports a general finding by the ICF:

While retail is ranked the highest in terms of additional jobs per million dollars of project costs, this number does not take into account job destruction in competing stores. A FAO/EBRD 2011 study on the retail sector in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania finds both significant job creation in modern retailers and significant job losses in competitors, with the former effect being larger. Additionally, in all three countries, while employment in the retail sector clearly increased, part of it can also be attributed to shift from self-employment to wage employment. Furthermore, the FAO/EBRD study also cites a study from the United States,4 which found that for every hundred jobs added by introducing modern retail stores, fifty were lost in competing enterprises over the next five years. So the net job creation effects were still positive, but only half of what direct job numbers would indicate.

Which might account for the apparent enthusiasm with which the local government in Glynn County, Georgia is embracing the construction of ever more retail establishments, without, also apparently, registering the high vacancy rate and under-utilization of extant facilities. Meanwhile, the job creation with associated investments in infrastructure is going largely ignored. It’s as if $41 million for water and sewer lines and lift stations were a frivolity.

A study for the Portland/Milwaukee Light Rail project provides an estimate of job creation as a result of construction and comes up with the number 8.34 per million dollars spent. So the JWSC program might account for 340 jobs, and they’d be relatively well-paying jobs. Compare that to the $30 million supposedly invested in the Glynn Solar installation, which not only imported workers from North Carolina for the construction but promises only a mere 5 permanent jobs to manage the operation. Strikes me that the JWSC deserves a tad bit more local enthusiasm and support.

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The Barber of Jekyll Island http://likethedew.com/2016/03/01/the-barber-of-jekyll-island/ http://likethedew.com/2016/03/01/the-barber-of-jekyll-island/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:12:59 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63361 Do Not Respect, has taken his shears to the Causeway to "trim" the place up. A letter from one Karl Burgess, in the Coastal Resources Division, acknowledged the trimming plan, but apparently failed to mention that the assistants he was going to provide were novices at their jobs.]]>

Georgia DNR letter of acknowlegementImagine going into the barbershop for a trim and coming out with a shaved head and a couple of missing ears. That’s about what happened to the storied Marshes of Glynn along the Jekyll Island Causeway. The barber of Jekyll Island, with an assist from the Georgia Department of Do Not Respect, has taken his shears to the Causeway to “trim” the place up.

A letter from one Karl Burgess, in the Coastal Resources Division, acknowledged the trimming plan, but apparently failed to mention that the assistants he was going to provide were novices at their jobs.

On the other hand, the effort to maximize “the natural and aesthetic value of an artificial landscape,” as the Jekyll Island Authority’s conservation manager explained, was likely flawed from the get-go. After all, though the Georgia legislature re-instated a protective buffer requirement to insure that the natural vegetation is not disturbed along our marshes and shores, the word that their area of jurisdiction had moved apparently didn’t trickle down to the Coastal Resources Division. Or, maybe the bureaucrats still don’t know what jurisdiction (the law says) means.

 

 

 

 

 

In any event, the placement of the pink-ribboned bamboo stakes in the marsh as a guide to the “trimmers” provides clear evidence of either intentional carelessness or gross incompetence. How else to explain a bundle of un-used stakes left like litter in the marsh? Maybe the “assistants” suddenly realized they were doing it wrong or their shoes were sinking in the mud? Because, instead of moving from protected plant to protected plant, as this little schematic directs, , they got lost and ended up as much as nine feet off the high marsh edge.

CrabMaybe it’s just too complicated for biologists to keep track of both plants and critters. Granted, before the mowers passed to obliterate the detritus, the fiddler crab burrows, to which the critters retreat when the tide comes in, were hard to see. Now they’ll be spotted by predators with ease.

If that fiddler crab looks irate, it’s probably because he really doesn’t want to be disturbed–not by chain saws or mowers or wood chippers. If he could, he’d tell the barber to take his clippers and go home. “Leave our natural habitat alone.”

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Three’s a Charm http://likethedew.com/2016/01/25/threes-a-charm/ http://likethedew.com/2016/01/25/threes-a-charm/#respond Mon, 25 Jan 2016 17:26:06 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=62917

St. Bernard Sanders wearing a berniecare barrel

Seven is a lucky number, but three’s a charm.

I’ve been told that the brain can’t keep track of more than seven things at a time. I’ve tried and it is really difficult to view seven fish at one time in the pond. I ended up counting them by size and then adding the groups to account for my dozen.  There are now fewer fish. I don’t see all the birds that come for a meal.

Anyway, I remain convinced that the brain has to be exposed to any new information at least three times before it sinks in. That may well be a default to prevent attention overload. But, if it’s true, then perhaps the three times rule explains why Senator Bernard Sanders for President is not registering as we might expect, given the obvious enthusiasm he generates — much as Barack Obama did in 2008. Back then we eventually ended up with Obamacare, a popular slogan though the program it’s applied to isn’t all that great. Which is why we now have what might be called Berniecare on the agenda, but it’s being officially ignored.

The question I would pose is “is it the proponents that are being ignored, or is it the care?” If Hillary cared, might she be leading in the favorability polls without the pundits knowing why? Because pundits still don’t get that “care” is the key?

Whether we attach it to health, medics or personalities, “care” is the magic potion. CARE packages are, of course, what convinced Europe that being defeated by America was going to be OK. CARE and America are one, albeit on a subconscious level. So, Senator Sanders cued it up with that Simon and Garfunkel tune.

If the Jewish St. Bernard gets elected in 2016, will we have to wait for another caring candidate before the importance of care sinks in?

Care is what differentiates the careful from our impetuous, instinct-driven and often clueless brethren.

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“Just Like Deer Hunting” http://likethedew.com/2015/12/04/just-like-deer-hunting/ http://likethedew.com/2015/12/04/just-like-deer-hunting/#respond Fri, 04 Dec 2015 12:52:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=62499 Atlanta Journal Constitution has been on the story for a long time. After all, the shooting of Caroline Small, by two Glynn County, Georgia, cops, occurred over five years ago, well before cops shooting citizens became a topic of national disgust. About a month ago, some strangers with a camera showed up at the Glynn County Commission meeting, but nobody knew why they were there. The only thing that happened that night, which the visitors might have noted, but probably didn't, was that the Commission passed an imprudent resolution...]]>

It was well covered in the news, the local reporter says. And, indeed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has been on the story for a long time. After all, the shooting of Caroline Small, by two Glynn County, Georgia, cops, occurred over five years ago, well before cops shooting citizens became a topic of national disgust.

Caroline Small Glynn County Shooting by PoliceAbout a month ago, some strangers with a camera showed up at the Glynn County Commission meeting, but nobody knew why they were there. The only thing that happened that night, which the visitors might have noted, but probably didn’t, was that the Commission passed an imprudent resolution:

WHEREAS, the Glynn County Board of Commissioners is not pleased with the manner in which the Executive Director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission (JWSC) is conducting operations with regard to matters affecting the JWSC; and

WHEREAS, the Glynn County Board of Commissioners is concerned that the decisions of the Executive Director have not served the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Glynn County;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Glynn County Board of Commissioners, acting in its capacity as the governing authority of Glynn County, that it be known that the Glynn County Board of Commissioners has lost confidence in the Executive Director of the JWSC and calls for his termination.

The imprudence had been pointed out in an ad by one of the County’s residents, who asked:

–Why does it fail to name Steve Swan, the Executive Director of the JWSC?

–Why does it fail to identify the only agency that has the ability to terminate Mr. Swan’s employment?

–Why does it assert that the County Commission is not pleased with the way Mr. Swan “is conducting operations” when Mr. Swan is on suspension and obviously NOT conducting operations?

–Why does it fail to specify which decisions by Mr. Swan “have not served the citizens and taxpayers of Glynn County”?

–Why does it refer to “the citizens and taxpayers of Glynn County” but fail to mention the rate-payers served by the JWSC?

–Why, if you adopt this resolution, should voters in Glynn County continue to have confidence in the manner in which you conduct yourselves?

–Why don’t you simply come to your senses, trash this pointless and mean-spirited resolution, and apologize to Mr. Swan?

It turned out that the reason the camera crew from the AJC was there was because Brad Schrade, a reporter for the AJC was expecting an answer to the email he’d sent, on October 30th, to the Glynn County Commission:

Subject: Questions about the Caroline Small shooting death from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution-Channel 2 Action News

Dear Glynn County Commissioner,

I’m a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This year the AJC in partnership with Channel 2 Actions News published an investigation of the 2010 police shooting death of Caroline Small by Glynn County Police Department. The story drew national attention to the case and the Glynn County Police Department’s actions. Our investigation revealed the GBI believed the shooting was unjustified and that Glynn County Police interfered with its investigation. The story also revealed that Glynn County Police Department created a factually inaccurate animation of the shooting that was later presented to grand jurors.

In response to the AJC’s story, Small’s family and some others believe the case should be reopened and presented to a new grand jury.

We are seeking each of your views on the case as elected representatives of the county, and ask that you please respond to the following questions. The responses will be reported in a forthcoming story about the case. I will also reach out to you by phone.

1) Do you think the 2010 shooting death of Caroline Small by Glynn County Police was justified?

2) Do you condone the statements made by Glynn County Officers Robert Sasser and Michael Simpson in the moments after they shot Caroline Small? They discussed their marksmanship, talked about watching the shots hit her face and seemed to talk about the shooting as if it were sport.

3) Do you endorse the actions of the Glynn County Police Department when its officers interfered with the GBI investigation of the shooting?

4) Do you endorse the actions of the Glynn County Police Department when it created a factually inaccurate animation that was later presented to grand jurors?

5) Should this case be re-examined?

6) Do you support the governor or some other public official asking the GBI to investigate the case and its prosecution?

7) Should the Glynn County Commission conduct its own review of the shooting and the police department’s actions?

8) Should this case be presented to a second grand jury?

Thanks for your time and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Brad Schrade
Reporter
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Almost a month later, there appeared, on the Glynn County Consent Agenda, wherein multiple items are routinely approved without discussion in a block, unless some commissioner asks for a separate vote, this item #10:

“Authorize the chairman to issue a letter in response to recent press inquiries regarding Caroline Small.”

Which provided a hook for Citizen Smith’s final comment (his fourth) of the year:

I am Julian Smith, and I live on Saint Simons Island. I come before you this evening to express my appreciation for the many excellent opportunities you provide me to comment on your decisions or proposed actions. I will focus on just two:

At your November 5th meeting, five commissioners voted in favor of a resolution calling for the firing of Stephen Swan, the Executive Director of the JWSC. Despite the fact that resolution expressed disapproval of the way Mr. Swan “is conducting operations” and claimed his “decisions have not served the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Glynn County”, not a single commissioner provided any example of how Mr. Swan conducted operations or explained what decisions did not serve citizens or taxpayers.

And Chair Provenzano and Commissioner Brunson, the only ones who voted against the resolution, did not, either before or after the vote, challenge or question their colleagues’ failure to speak to those claims, nor did either say anything to discourage their colleagues from embarrassing themselves and the citizens of Glynn County with unsupported allegations.

Moving on to your consent agenda this evening, I call your attention to item ten: “Authorize the chairman to issue a letter in response to recent press inquiries regarding Caroline Small.” That agenda description is inaccurate. The press inquiries in question do NOT regard Caroline Small herself but concern the actions of the two Glynn County police officers who shot her to death in 2010, the investigation of that shooting, litigation following that investigation, and other matters.

Please be patient as I quote the first sentence of the letter you are being asked to authorize Chair Provenzano to issue: “The Glynn County Board of Commissioners . . . has received your October 30, 2015, e-mail regarding the death of Caroline Small, and the Board is collectively providing this letter in response.”

In that October 30th e-mail, a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked eight simple questions. A month and three days later, the letter before you does not answer a single question directly.

For example, the second paragraph of the letter begins with “The first question in your e-mail is whether the Commissioners think that the shooting was justified.” Instead of answering that question, the letter cites a federal district court ruling that, quote, “The key question before the Court is whether the tragic shooting of Caroline Small violated the United States Constitution such that Small’s representatives can recover money damages from the police and the county. After thorough consideration, it is clear that no constitutional violation occurred.”

Those last words, “it is clear that no constitutional violation occurred”, are italicized for emphasis in the letter you are being asked to provide “collectively”. Later in the same paragraph, I find this incredible paraphrase of two federal court decisions: “In other words . . . the level of force was permissible under the Constitution.” In its final paragraph, the letter repeats the assertion that “all four members of the federal judiciary who have reviewed this case have reached the same conclusion–the level of force was justified under the U. S. Constitution.” That is NOT what the courts decided in this case.

Whether or not you believe the fatal shooting of Caroline Small was justified, please do not consent “collectively” or individually to this letter or ANY letter regarding this matter.

This letter and the resolution you adopted on November 5th are both useless. If you really want to do something useful, adopt a resolution and send a letter in response to the following “whereas” in the 10 June 2015 consent order between the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Sea Island Acquisition, LLC, regarding violations of the Shore Protection Act:

WHEREAS, Respondent [that is, Sea Island Acquisition, LLC] manages the beach at Sea Island in the role of, and in lieu of, a local government, and performs the functions of security, law enforcement, beach cleanup, animal control, resource management and beach maintenance activities, as well as other functions performed by governmental entities on other barrier islands . . . “

Please, gentlemen, let Sea Island Acquisition and the innocent citizens who live on Sea Island know that Glynn County has not abandoned its authority as the local government responsible for law enforcement and the enforcement of local ordinances.

Of course, the Chair only thanked Smith for his comments and the commission moved on to hold public hearings on liquor licenses, which nobody in the audience chose to address.

However, when the Consent Agenda items came up, #8, #9, and #10 were removed and then, after some cursory discussion, #8 was approved, #9 was overlooked (the County Attorney reminded them later) and #10 was deferred several weeks until the commissioners had “more time to read.” There was no mention of a letter the Chairman had received earlier in the day from a former Assistant District Attorney, who cared enough to share his thoughts:

Subject: Caroline Small Killing

Dear Comm. Provenzano:

Caroline Small

Caroline Small

I am David Peterson, one of your constituents on Jekyll Island, having moved here permanently from Minnesota in 2004 with my wife and law partner, Sonja Johnson Peterson. Sonja worked on special projects for the Jekyll Island Authority and after proper vetting with Minnesota officials, Judge Stephen Kelley hired me as an Asst. District Attorney and I had the privilege of serving honorably from 2005 until my normal retirement at 65 in October, 2011.

I regret you and your colleagues have to continue to deal with the tragedy of the Caroline Small killing. I have personally tried several of Officer Sasser’s drug cases, and I have tried cases with DA Jackie Johnson.

Officer Sasser was not afraid when he shot Caroline Small. He lost command and control, which he had properly conducted until the pit stop by Trooper Monroe. He had Small trapped in a tiny front yard at 228 Armstrong Avenue (please look at Google map) between 4 police vehicles and the utility pole. She had no place to go. Sasser simply needed to provide routine cover to Tr. Monroe while he extricated her from her vehicle. Officers do it every day in Georgia, usually alone, sometimes with one other officer, very rarely ending in violence.

Simpson should not have been there. He was on limited desk duty, due to brain seizure issues. He should not have been carrying a weapon. Simpson admitted his seizure/medication problems in his initial statement to the GBI. See report.

Sasser and Simpson made no public utterances of being afraid at the scene, or by their conduct. They focused on their marksmanship. They waited and let her bleed out, just like deer hunting.

She deserved to go to jail. She did not deserve to die.

Your proposed response to Mr. Schrade of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is premature, and I would suggest lacking in awareness of critical facts.

I respectfully request that you defer further public action until we can meet with you.

I will be glad to give you substantial detail and perspective and I would like Keith Higgins to give you his knowledge and perspective as our senior trial attorney in the DA’s office. Perhaps Alex Atwood can also be present. If you prefer we can meet with a subcommittee or committee of the whole, whichever you prefer.

You are correct. There is a limit what you can do at this point. When you have heard us, I recommend that you immediately suspend Sasser and obtain his service weapons and badge and report same to the POST Board.

You are in this mess because of the unlawful criminal behavior of Sasser and Simpson, but more importantly the inexcusable behavior of Matt Doering and Jackie Johnson to prevent these crimes from being dealt with in the Constitutional forum, a public trial. I and all the senior ADAs, as well as Rick Currie, Ware County DA and Jackie’s mentor for years, advised from the outset in 2010 that these officers should have been indicted for murder, to vindicate the 95-95 percent of GCPD officers who NEVER would have shot her or any other Misdemeanor Offender in those circumstances.

If Matt Doering refuses to immediately suspend Sasser and secure his weapons, then he would be defying your Board Authority and justify his suspension or termination.

This is as serious as it gets in our profession.

I am a serious and respected attorney and citizen, having served in Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Georgia.

Ask Judge Kelley. Ask Judges Tuten, Wilkes, Scarlett, Harrison, and Barton and any attorneys you know, or GCPD officers, if they have worked with me.

I welcome the opportunity to meet you, discuss this issue, and work to improve the quality of all our lives, now and for the future ((Splost 2016, water and planning etc), here in Glynn County. Thank you.

Respectfully, David A. Peterson

It is perhaps noteworthy that, on yesterday, the Brunswick Glynn Joint Water and Sewer Commission, voted to extend the Executive Director’s contract for another year. Alan Booker, the Glynn County Commissioner delegated to sit on the JWSC Board voted ‘no’ because, “everyone knows how I feel.” Booker did, later in the day, vote to defer sending the letter to the AJC because he needed “more time to read” without specifying his reading matter. One wonders if he’s watched the video of the execution of Caroline Small and how that might have made him feel.

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An Ecosystem Report Card for the Georgia Coast http://likethedew.com/2015/11/15/an-ecosystem-report-card-for-the-georgia-coast/ http://likethedew.com/2015/11/15/an-ecosystem-report-card-for-the-georgia-coast/#comments Mon, 16 Nov 2015 01:40:44 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=62345 The Coastal Georgia Ecosystem Report Card is an important tool for planning restoration activities and conservation. It provides a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of health in coastal Georgia... ]]>

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources explanation for their most recent initiative to gin up support for their activities in the populace (“develop an environmental ethic,” in Spud Woodward, the Director’s words) reads as follows:

The Coastal Georgia Ecosystem Report Card is an important tool for planning restoration activities and conservation. It provides a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of health in coastal Georgia. Coastal Georgia health is defined as the progress of indicators toward scientifically-derived thresholds or goals. The twelve indicators in the report card examine human health, fisheries and wildlife.

Ecological report cards are considered a public friendly way to provide a timely and geographically detailed assessment of ecosystems and rivers. Report cards provide a numeric grade or letter that is similar to a school report card, allowing for quick and understandable results to a broad audience.

Everyone who didn’t attend the presentation by two academics from the University of Maryland (the universe minus about two dozen people) owes me. And, while I did carry home the eight page glossy (plus a printed page of verbiage) handout, I have to admit that I haven’t read it and likely won’t. I took notes and will use those to provide a quick run down of a presentation that, according to the scientists, is similar to what they’re doing all over the globe.

But first, let me admit that the GA DNR self-assessment quoted above is accurate. They do think that pieces of paper and good intentions are “tools” and that the march of “indicators” is synonymous with goals. That goals are to be “derived,” rather than achieved, is further evidence for why nothing much of value comes out of that building under the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

Why “ecosystems and rivers” are referred to as separate entities is a puzzlement, unless it is an upfront admission that the major rivers on the Georgia coast, the Savannah and the Altamaha, aren’t actually included in the report card because those water bodies aren’t covered in the 150 “scientific data sets” that were reviewed. Water quality data, in general, weren’t included because “that’s an EPD (Environmental Protection Division) issue” and, for some unexplained reason, “they weren’t available to participate today.” Also, it seems, the data collectors couldn’t agree on the significance of the water quality data they do have. So, they just left it out and concluded that coliform bacteria in samples collected from the beaches and which are usually within “acceptable limits” would serve as indicators of human health.

I often find it useful to look for “the thing left out” when I’m considering any issue. The problem here is that just about everything put in by the GA DNR is worthless when it comes to environmental and public health. When the scientists were asked what surprised them about the Georgia coast, this ecologically unique environment, all one could come up with was the fact that “you have right whales.”

But, let me turn to my notes:

  • The presenters, Heath Kelsey and Alexandra Fries from the University of Maryland, obviously aim for their report on the Georgia coast to be the first of an annual product, similar to what they prepare for Chesapeake Bay. Their methodology is to consider the “big picture” via indicators to define “health” by correlating scores and then communicate the results to the public.
  • Because the GA DNR is focused on the “management of resources” — i.e. making sure that the exploitation of nature by man can be sustained, there’s been little sampling of the Altamaha and Savannah Rivers. That these water bodies are being exploited to the fullest by industries, whose pollution has rendered the fish and crustaceans inedible, wasn’t mentioned in the presentation. (The only protection extended to “impaired waters” is to restrict access by new sources of pollution).
  • “Fish advisories” — i.e. a notice to the public that the fish they catch in our water bodies ought not to be eaten on a regular basis — are recognized as potential indicators of human health, but weren’t included in this particular report. Perhaps they’ll be used in future years. That there has been a significant decline in the female blue crab population is now being blamed by the fish and game people alternatively on “cool weather,” high fresh water flows or some other, unknown, environmental insult.
  • Because the data processors couldn’t agree on a threshold for water quality assessment, local data were left out and the national standards, which are promulgated by the EPA, were deemed inapplicable to the local area. So, despite having a 150 data set, the GADNR has to admit to significant gaps, which can’t be filled because “there aren’t enough staff”.

Other matters brought up in the Question and Answer session were:

  1. That the indicators in each report are unique and should not be compared. So, conditions in Chesapeake Bay, where blue crab populations also happen to be decreasing, should not be compared with what’s happening here.
  2. That eleven thousand individuals and stakeholders were notified about the report. The small number of attendees at the presentation, augmented by some participants in a webinar, is not concerning because the presenters had a good interview with the press earlier.
  3. That the dolphin population, which, unlike the whales, is actually resident in the region, was not included in the indicator data set is to be blamed on insufficient staff. Ditto for overlooking marsh mammals and microorganisms.
  4. That industrial and chemical contaminants aren’t tracked.
  5. That it is possible future reports will include data from the Riverkeepers who monitor our major waterways.
  6. That the purpose of the “indicators” is to “reflect” negative influences — i.e. the report is an indirect process and not aimed at corrective action.

Which, come to think of it, school reports have devolved into, as well.

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On the Brunswick, Georgia Waterfront with the Incredible Brothers Koch http://likethedew.com/2015/08/30/on-the-brunswick-georgia-waterfront-with-the-incredible-brothers-koch/ http://likethedew.com/2015/08/30/on-the-brunswick-georgia-waterfront-with-the-incredible-brothers-koch/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 21:51:55 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61383 Hercules Specialty Resins was still spewing its sulfurous emissions across the marshes of Glynn to be dissipated by mingling with the off-shore breezes, local wags dubbed the odiferous environment “the smell of money.” They may have been more right than they thought. For, within a decade, all profits had apparently gone up the chimney, even as every rain storm deposited more toxins to poison the marsh...]]>

Koch Logos Ass Fart Over Brunswick GA

About a quarter century ago, when Hercules Specialty Resins was still spewing its sulfurous emissions across the marshes of Glynn to be dissipated by mingling with the off-shore breezes, local wags dubbed the odiferous environment “the smell of money.” They may have been more right than they thought. For, within a decade, all profits had apparently gone up the chimney, even as every rain storm deposited more toxins to poison the marsh. That profitable enterprise depends to a large extent on avoiding waste is a lesson the new owners of Pinova seem to appreciate. On the other side of town, the tradition of spewing tons of sulphur up the chimney continues.

Even as Hercules Specialty Resins was falling on hard times, the behemoth known as Georgia Pacific found it necessary to sell off some of its forest products dependent enterprises. Koch Industries, having previously acquired the polyester fiber business, Invista, from the DuPont corporation, ponied up $610 million in 2004 for two pulp mills – one on the Leaf River in New Augusta, Mississippi and the slightly larger Brunswick Pulp and Paper on the shores of our Turtle River. Then, the following year, in November of 2005, the Koch brothers made a tender of $13.2 billion for all of Georgia Pacific’s assets and finally shelled out $21 billion, when the deal was finalized in December. That is, if news reports are to be believed. What is both credible and incredible is that just six months later those assets became collateral for an $11 billion loan from Citicorp North America, Inc. It’s credible, because that’s the story Glynn County deed records tell. What’s incredible is that Wall Street would bail out the Koch brothers to that extent.

Actually, that gigantic debt was incurred by Brunswick Cellulose, Inc. That’s the entity with which Georgia’s environmental watchdogs are dealing when they issue air pollution and waste water permits, but who’s actually responsible is an open question. There are so many names to choose from:

  • Brunswick Cellulose, LLC
  • GP Cellulose Operations and Holdings LLC
  • GP Cellulose, LLC
  • Georgia-Pacific Brunswick Operations
  • Brunswick Pulp and Paper Company
  • Georgia-Pacific Southeastern Chlorate Plant
  • Koch Cellulose, LLC
  • Koch Cellulose, Gmbh

The State of Georgia also seems content to be dealing with Brunswick Cellulose, Inc., when it comes to the environmental covenant, recorded in Deed Book 3368/0398, precluding any future residential use of some 348.84 acres because the soil is too contaminated with toxic chemicals. And Brunswick Cellulose, Inc. is the entity identified in numerous mechanics’ liens which local contractors have had to file just to get paid.

  • Performance Contracting Inc.
  • Georgia Block & Brick, Inc.
  • Georgia Ready Mix, Inc.
  • Construction Materials, Inc.
  • DMI Contractors, Inc.
  • Barbera Utility Contracting, Inc.
  • DYWIDAG SYSTEMS INT.
  • Concept Systems
  • Standard Concrete Products

While not paying one’s bills until a lien is filed seems rather shoddy behavior on the part of a multi-billion dollar enterprise, it becomes downright insulting when the only official response to a toxic release that made people sick is to claim that the community should appreciate the $700 million that’s supposedly been invested in new plant and equipment in recent years. It’s doubly insulting when there’s no evidence that the plant’s effluents and emissions are doing anything to clean up the environment. Indeed, what the Environmental Protection Division signed off on in 2004 seems unchanged in the draft permit that’s being reviewed in 2015:

Power Boiler #4 is currently permitted to burn bark, tire-derived fuel (TDF), wastewater treatment sludge, waste oil, natural gas, and No. 6 fuel oil. The unit’s heat input capacity rate will not change as a result of this modification and remains a maximum of 800 MMBtu/hr. The boiler was installed at the mill in 1961. Brunswick has proposed to install and operate a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) for oxides of nitrogen (NOX) for this unit in order to demonstrate compliance with a proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) avoidance limit. The unit already utilizes a continuous opacity monitoring system (COMS).
The modification of the Brunswick Mill due to the modifications of Power Boiler #4 will result in an emissions increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM/PM10), NOX, carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (VOC), and lead (Pb). A PSD analysis was performed for the boiler for all pollutants to determine if any increase was above the “significance” level. The PM/PM10 emissions increase was above the PSD significant level threshold.

While “opacity” refers to the density of the smoke, what’s being monitored is just a small percentage of the toxins identified in the Total Release Inventory (TRI) published by the EPA:

  • acetaldehyde
  • ammonia
  • barium compounds
  • catechol
  • chlorine and chlorine dioxide
  • cresol
  • formaldehyde
  • formic acid
  • hydrochloric acid
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • lead compounds
  • manganese compounds
  • methanol
  • phenol
  • polycyclic aromatic compounds
  • sulfuric acid
  • zinc compounds

Granted, since the plant is permitted to emit 2002 tons of sulfur dioxide in a 12 month period, the accidental release of a couple of pounds, as happened during a power failure in 2014, would hardly register with the plant’s operators. How were they supposed to know an atmospheric inversion was going to douse the neighborhood? Besides, most of their emissions are calculated, not actually measured. That is, emissions are deduced from the kind and amount of fuels consumed. Indeed, some of the calculations approved by the regulators seem to be based on equipment and processes that aren’t even in place. So, the plant gets credit for an electrostatic precipitator associated with Lime Kiln #6, which has not yet been installed. And the permit anticipates the burning of pet coke (tar sands residue), which isn’t actually being combusted anywhere in the U.S.

I suppose we could conclude that the Kochs are forward looking. Or, we might suspect that their press releases are based on smoke and mirrors. The reality is that in the year 2013 Brunswick Cellulose has spewed 912,704 pounds of pollutants into the air, deposited 10,608 pounds on the land and poured 180,528 pounds into the waters of the state. Moreover, while toxins such as mercury settle out in the sludge of the waste water ponds, burning that sludge in the power boiler then disperses the mercury (no more than 7.1 pounds in a 24 hour period) into the atmosphere.

Finally, the evidence provided in the permit applications suggests that most of the “improvements” at Brunswick Cellulose or GP Cellulose or Koch Cellulose involve the removal of various facilities and processes. Bleach plants 1-3 were supposedly removed and replaced by Bleach plant 4. The methanol storage facility is reported removed. Ditto for the non-condensible gas (NCG) system and incinerator. Four digesters haven’t been installed and neither has the #6 Lime Kiln and the attendant pet coke grinder. So, what have $700 million bought? Power boilers #5 and #6 have no monitors and no anti-pollution devices (scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators), so they don’t have to be monitored. It seems that the same standard as in real estate applies. If it’s not destroyed over 50%, it doesn’t have to be modernized.

It’s no wonder the air we breathe is increasingly contaminated. Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) is the order of the day. But, it’s the host of insignificancies (the invisible fine particulate matter FPM) that is killing the planet.

You’d better believe it!

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Pervasive Patterns of Deception in Georgia’s Golden Isles http://likethedew.com/2015/08/16/pervasive-patterns-deception-golden-isles-georgia/ http://likethedew.com/2015/08/16/pervasive-patterns-deception-golden-isles-georgia/#respond Sun, 16 Aug 2015 14:25:23 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=61177 [1] I've found that not to be quite true in my research – at least not in the American South. Since the invention of the printing press, history has been based mostly on what the people who got themselves noticed by newspapers and had both the inclination and time to preserve their clippings in the archives historians are wont to peruse. In other words, historians ending up with a biased perspective is not entirely their fault. They work with what they've got.]]>

Port of Brunswick

It is often said, “history is written by the victors.”[1] I’ve found that not to be quite true in my research – at least not in the American South. Since the invention of the printing press, history has been based mostly on what the people who got themselves noticed by newspapers and had both the inclination and time to preserve their clippings in the archives historians are wont to peruse. In other words, historians ending up with a biased perspective is not entirely their fault. They work with what they’ve got.

BRUNSWICK: THE CITY BY THE SEA by Patricia BarefootThat certainly seems to have been the case when Patricia Barefoot undertook to produce a picture-heavy biography of “Brunswick, The City by the Sea,” a designation for Brunswick she first came across in an 1888 promotional piece in Harper’s Magazine Advertiser. One hundred and twenty-five years ago there was hype and today there is hype. The only difference is that now, instead of calling attention to a “city by the sea”, it’s the “golden isles” that is supposed to distract us from reality.

Why do I say that? In the interim between 1930 when the population of the city peaked at 14,022 and before the temporary inflation caused by World War II, Brunswick is supposed to be thriving with a 2010 grand total of the 15,383 residents. Granted, the city is sort of a hole in the donut. The surrounding Glynn County has grown to 72,000+ residents. My question is how did that come to pass?

Does the palpable distress at the termination of the Confederate Memorial Day celebration provide a clue? What about the fact that the flag of the Confederate states, augmented by the official seal of Georgia has been adopted as the state flag? Does a reluctance to surrender what is referred to as heritage account for the economic doldrums which have befallen what was one of the fifteen largest cities in Georgia in 1930?

Why have most of the landmark structures either been razed or succumbed to fire (most recently, the waterfront was again in flames, most likely because modern precautions had not been followed)? Why is all that is left of the various “economic miracles” a handful of superfund sites and a depleted resource base? Can we blame a pervasive pattern of deception in the land of the euphemism? Can we point to the fact that of over a thousand recognizable persons in Ms. Barefoot’s biography, only 90 are black? Does the benign neglect of a significant portion of the black community account for the stagnation?

Judge Samuel C. Atkinson

Judge Samuel C. Atkinson

Perhaps “benign neglect” is not all that benign. What does it mean, for example, when the biographer writes:

Hon. Judge Orion J. Douglass holds the distinction of being the first man of African-American descent to serve as an elected judge of State Court, only the tenth jurist in this position. Created in 1895 by an act of legislation in the General Assembly, the State Court was originally called the “City Court of Brunswick.” The first judge, Samuel Carter Atkinson (1864-1942), seen at right, presided from 1896 to 1900.

What are we to conclude from the fact that the image of a person, who sat on the bench for a mere four years over a century ago is featured, while Judge Douglass, who, as it happens, is still taking rotation on the court in 2015, is nowhere to be seen? Wherefore the praise for a man who…

Judge Orion Douglass

Judge Orion Douglass

upheld the doctrine of stare decisis (to abide by or adhere to decided cases) and was adamant about the importance of construing the law so that a law-abiding citizen had no doubt about the correct path.

What prompts an author to wander from the first African-American judge to such drivel? Is she merely honoring the expectations of her audience, the people who shared pictures from their private collections?

Which leads me to the hypothesis that the pervasive patterns of deception, albeit endemic to the corporate objective of avoiding risk, may actually arise initially out of a rather prevalent preference for deceiving oneself. “Misery loves company.” Perhaps misery also wants company and “failure by design” is the recipe for getting there. Shared loss is what heritage is all about. Come, let us commiserate together!

###

[1] Attribution to this is mixed. Some attribute to Winston Churchill, others to Walter Benjamin.

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Car Culture http://likethedew.com/2015/06/17/car-culture/ http://likethedew.com/2015/06/17/car-culture/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:30:00 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60476 new study finds that urban sprawl, characterized by dead end streets and cul de sacs in neighborhoods has been decreasing since 1994.]]>

Car culture seems to be waning in the U.S. Which is not to say that people are giving up automobiles, but that the cars are no longer determining how people live and express themselves. Cars are becoming more utilitarian, judged on their useful and practical attributes, whose appearance is not so much an expression of the driver’s psyche as a matter of taste.

There is evidence that car culture is waning. A new study finds that urban sprawl, characterized by dead end streets and cul de sacs in neighborhoods has been decreasing since 1994. Which might lead one to conclude that St. Simons Island is anomalous because a new subdivision with a two thousand foot long dead end street has just been approved. Moreover, given an opportunity to voice their opinions, a large number of citizens objected to their neighborhood streets being connected to permit alternate traffic patterns circulating through them. But, in fact, both events can be used as evidence that it’s the circulation of cars, not the proximity of people that’s being resisted.

Guard House 9794 (Small)Although the latest segment of Frederica Township is being marketed as a gated community with only one way in, pedestrians and, presumably, bicyclists will have access through a hundred foot strip of woodland. And, while the street is two thousand feet long, it serves only ten 2+ acre lots in an environment that needs to be served by water and sewer lines. Nor are the developers objecting to constructing the road to county specifications, just in case the residents eventually decide (as three neighborhoods recently have) they don’t want to be responsible for the infrastructure. Gates may well be a passing phase, installed mostly to keep out unwelcome cars.

That it’s the cars that are unwelcome is also evidenced by neighborhood resistance to having interconnected streets to facilitate access by emergency vehicles. Once that purpose is explained, residents seem quite content to have the streets, as long as they’re not part of the routine circulation pattern. Traffic is the concern; not people. I make that point because, back in the 1980’s, it was the presence of unwanted people that prompted residents to resist having sidewalks installed in front of their houses. More recently, it seems, it’s only the cops that are spooked by people on foot.

The cops have good reason. Not only are their cages on wheels unwieldy in competition with a nimble youth (bicyclists are even worse), but when they exit the machine, they’re so weighed down by their gear and protective garb that the well-practiced routine of going for the gun and shooting off a few rounds serves as a stress reliever. How else to explain the execution of Tamir Rice?

Culture is, of course, coercive. And car culture is no exception. Which suggests that the selling of the car as freedom was one of the grandest deceptions of the twentieth century. Persuading hundreds of millions of people to lock themselves into cages on wheels was a monumental propaganda achievement. Even more so, three thousand people getting killed each and every day with hardly a word of objection.

Whom shall we credit with weaning the millenials off driving themselves? I nominate the school bus.

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Rewarding Poor Planning http://likethedew.com/2015/05/21/rewarding-poor-planning/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/21/rewarding-poor-planning/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 23:11:00 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60288

It has been hard to get timely, accurate information. In the early years of the 21st century, some group was tracking the transfer of dollars from the federal treasury to the states, which generally showed that the majority payments were in the form of various types of insurance subsidies: mortgage insurance, housing insurance, health insurance, flood insurance, crop insurance and higher education loans.

The data collection stopped, perhaps because of objections from the insurance industries at having their transfer function exposed. Or maybe all of my computer crashes and software switches are the reason I no longer can find the information. Some information began flowing again with Medicare and Medicaid reform, insurance/financial industry reform tackled by Dodd-Frank, the Affordable Care Act for health insurance, and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act whose context is fairly well addressed in the report put out by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

According to the CRS report, the flood insurance legislation signed by President Obama in 2012 was over four years in the making. During that time the National Flood Insurance Program hobbled along on annual appropriations. Perhaps Congress was reluctant to deal with the short-comings revealed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. And, although the new law calls for the repayment of $17.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury,

Many insurance analysts believe FEMA will not be able to repay the current debt in the next 10 years.

Why? Because, when premiums for policies are increased, property owners opt out. Moreover, unless people have mortgages and their financial institutions are penalized for not insisting on coverage, there is no way to enforce compliance.

So, “repetitive loss properties” are a well-recognized and on-going problem.

Properties that experience repetitive flood losses, known as a “repetitive loss properties” (RLP) and “severe repetitive loss properties” (SRLP), account for a disproportionately large share of all the flood insurance claims filed and paid under the NFIP.50 Historically, it is estimated that approximately 1% of the properties insured under the NFIP have accounted for over a third of claims paid. About 1 in 10 homes that suffer repetitive flood damages have cumulative flood insurance claims that have exceeded the value of the house. (from page 17 of the CRS report)

Researchers indicate that there are at least five possible explanations for the low market penetration for flood insurance: (1) flood insurance is not seen as being worth the cost (i.e., a poor investment); (2) individuals have misperceptions about low-probability risks and lack information about the NFIP;55 (3) private insurance agents do not market NFIP policies; (4) lack of compliance with the mandatory purchase requirement or failure to ensure that property owners maintain coverage for the life of the loan; and (5) many homeowners in risky areas either do not have a mortgage or have a mortgage from a lender that does not enforce the mandatory purchase requirement. (from page 19 of the CRS report)

And then there are inaccuracies, like the current designation of the western side of our eroding Sea Island Spit, as being “moderately” susceptible to flooding–i.e. in the X (SHADED) category.

X-shaded
Leaving potential buyers with the impression that the elevation is comparable to the commercial spine of St. Simons Island suggests that perhaps there’s a 6th reason for “low market penetration”: deception.
X-unshaded

The CRS report identified a number of states as being responsible for many repeat claimants as of December 2011: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Of course, there were/are residual effects from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.

state-flood-insurance-claims

So, perhaps the more recent data should not be surprising. Alabama, Florida and Texas still lead the pack in terms of paid claims for the year ending September 30, 2014. Which is about as current information as you can hope to get. And they’re still being rewarded for not planning ahead.

Claim_payments_fy2014-1

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“Indulging Generosity” http://likethedew.com/2015/05/15/indulging-generosity/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/15/indulging-generosity/#respond Fri, 15 May 2015 15:38:57 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60224 Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it's perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel -- i.e. long before his time. I don't know if his "Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel" was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.]]>

It’s a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it’s perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel — i.e. long before his time. I don’t know if his “Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel” was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.
A homiletic commentary on the Book of the prophet Ezekiel ..., Volume 25 By David Gilkison Watt, Thomas Henry Leale

The law which protects property also limits the exercise of the owner’s power over it.

I couldn’t agree more. It is, however, the principle which the advocates of private property rights prefer to forget. They’d like their power to be absolute.

Can’t disagree with the Scot’s perspective on indulging generosity, either.

The prince was amply provided for that he might be generous both to his family and his servants; but he was prohibited from indulging generosity by seizing the possessions of others. Some are generous enough with what belongs to others. It is mistaken generosity; it is fraud and robbery.

But that’s not exactly what I had in mind when the phrase occurred to me. My perspective was more that of the generous person who, while he’s obviously dependent on having willing recipients — recipients who, in turn, have no obligation to be grateful, but aren’t entitled to be indulgent, either — does not deserve to be devalued, to have his generosity indulged, like some foible, and then liable to being summarily rejected when his usefulness wears off.

That does seem to be the attitude with which the Cons consider liberal behavior. The Cons not only take what’s on offer; they do so grudgingly, barely indulgent of generosity, and then, when usefulness wears off, they reject it and declare themselves proud. It’s as if not beating the child were a sin.

On second thought, if the Scot’s use of the phrase was sarcastic, it is just this attitude of his, predicated on the belief that taxation is theft, which is shared by the Cons – -and the justification for deprivations to be inflicted on an “undeserving” populace. In which case, I guess I definitely disagree with the Scot.

How easily justice is perverted. Look how quickly the Scot transits from “just regard to the rights of others” to “judicious liberality.” Generosity is to be tempered, not indulged in wholeheartedly.

On another level, “indulging generosity” is sort of like “damning with faint praise” along the way to the full-fledged aggression we have in recent years identified as “Swiftboating” — i.e. the tactic of holding a person’s virtues and achievements against him. The motive? Power. It is perhaps telling that the Scot is considering generosity from the perspective of the “prince” and proceeds from the assumption that power is just.

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“They came to bury us, not knowing we were seeds.” http://likethedew.com/2015/05/03/they-came-to-bury-us-not-knowing-we-were-seeds/ http://likethedew.com/2015/05/03/they-came-to-bury-us-not-knowing-we-were-seeds/#respond Sun, 03 May 2015 15:52:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60124 Oakland Spring. Three years ago.]]>

Oakland Spring

Occupy lives from coast to coast. It’s just no longer news. In Oakland, the images of martyred young men are “planted” along with real flowers and trees to start a garden of hope. That’s the Oakland Spring.

Three years ago.

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“Protection” — It does not mean what you think it means. http://likethedew.com/2015/04/13/protection-it-does-not-mean-what-you-think-it-means/ http://likethedew.com/2015/04/13/protection-it-does-not-mean-what-you-think-it-means/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:38:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59975

At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.

Glynn County, Georgia, which is situated on the Bight of Georgia and has about a dozen miles of ocean front of which it can boast, claims to protect its stretch of beaches and dunes with a “Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone,” as described in Section 762 of the Zoning code. If we remember that codes are designed to deceive, that a code-breaker would be handy comes as no surprise.

Section 762 is not lengthy. Why, along with all the other sections slated for revision, it has languished on the County Attorney’s desk, instead of being forwarded to the County Commission for public consideration and adoption, is a puzzlement. Especially since the only changes involve substituting the word “zone” for “district” and giving violators somewhat less time before they risk being charged with some unspecified criminal infraction.

    762.1 Intent of District

It is the intent of this section that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone be protected from tides and high water storm surges, winds and erosion; that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without adversely affecting the existence or natural features of the beach and dune areas, and that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without subjecting adjacent property or property further inland to additional potential danger from actions of wind and water.

    762.2 Establishment of Subzone Areas.

The Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone shall be as follows:

Area A – A shorefront area with an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height, or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

Area B – A shorefront area without an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

    762.3 Establishment of the Beach and Dune Development Setback Line

A development setback line shall be established as follows for the two (2) areas within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone. The purpose of the development setback line is to delineate those areas within each subdistrict where development is permissible.

Area A – The Development Setback Line shall be located forty (40) feet landward of the crest of the most seaward stable dune, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

Area B – The Development Setback Line shall be located twenty (20) feet landward of the mean high water mark, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

    762.4 Permitted Uses

1) Landward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of those uses allowed within the underlying zoning district.

2) Seaward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of boating, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and other recreational uses not inherently destructive of the existence or integrity of the beach and dunes.

762.5 Conditional Uses The following uses may be permitted seaward of the Development Setback Line on a conditional basis in accordance with Section 904 provided that the applicant demonstrates that the proposed use will have no significant adverse environmental effects, such as increasing the potential for beach erosion or interference with existing established dune sequence, and increasing the exposure of inland properties to wind, water or wave damage.

1) Seawalls, jetties, bulkheads, revetments, groins, breakwaters, streets, utility lines, swimming pools, decks, boardwalks or fences.

2) Excavation of sand and/or disturbance of vegetation in Area A.

3) No development, grading, filling or other land alteration shall occur seaward of the Development Setback Line other than those conditional uses listed and approved above.

    762.6 Other Requirements

All permanent structures placed within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone, but not including accessory structures incidental to the principal structure, shall have a minimum first floor elevation of one foot above the FEMA flood elevation. The construction shall be on pilings rather than fill and construction standards shall conform to Department of Housing and Urban Development design and construction guidelines for high risk areas.

What we have here is a good example of the importance of the preconceived notion. If one proceeds from the assumption that ocean and wind are threats from which the dunes and beaches have to be protected, then man-made structures of all sorts, including asphalted parking lots, can be defined as protective. Developers, it turns out, are people who come to protect us from (Mother) Nature’s insults. The environment is not to be coddled. It doesn’t envelop; it threatens to destroy. Ergo, to counter the threat, development is deserved.

East-Beach-R6

All of which goes a long way to explain why Glynn County has designated thrity acres of vegetated sand dunes for medium density residential development. So, when the fund balances get too low, instead of raising the millage or increasing a sales tax, they can just reach into the “surplus land” cupboard and sell off the dunes for a cool three million or more. It is said “they’re not making more land,” but on the Bight of Georgia, Mother Nature has been increasing the resource base for over fifty years. Some people can remember when the Coast Guard Station was on the edge of the ocean. Now it’s back about 800 feet.

 

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Settlement or Extortion? http://likethedew.com/2015/03/22/settlement-or-extortion/ http://likethedew.com/2015/03/22/settlement-or-extortion/#respond Mon, 23 Mar 2015 01:55:53 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=59796 reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC...]]>

Image: composite image created for LikeTheDew.com - aerial photo by James Holland Photography; Mr. Moneybags a Monopoly image (fair use).

The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC. So, it’s no wonder references default to the historical moniker, which may well be the intent. Then too, the community has an historical investment in an enterprise, whose shame they’d just as soon forget. Bankruptcy may be SOP on Wall Street, but it’s not welcome on Main Street. So, Sea Island Company survives in local discourse.

Mendacity, on the other hand, does not merely survive, it thrives. Indeed, it was the mendacity involved in the claim that a fragile spit of rapidly eroding sand had been destined for development/destruction all along, which raised the hackles of both locals and environmentalists from away. Development has been promised and underway on the Georgia Coast for several decades, with the result that the locals, the people trying to make a living on Main Street, are no better off. Neither the air, nor the water are fresher — better to breathe and drink. The fish aren’t fit to eat and neither are the crabs and shrimp. There are fewer jelly balls washing up on the beach because they’re being “harvested” and sold off to Asia, but that’s not much of a boon.

Development, as we might guess from the prefix, is kin to destruction, devolution, degradation and the general descent into the less useful. Environmentalists settling in to watch (monitor) is not likely to reverse the trend. Which accounts for why I’ve not had much truck with environmentalist in the past. But, that’s neither here nor there. What we have here in this purported “settlement” to seal the future of the Spit (that the word “settlement” raises the specter of the controversy in the Middle East is probably relevant) is a compounding of mendacity. For, although lawsuits and formal complaints have been bruited about, nobody ever went to court to get a fair determination of rights – of whether ownership comes with a right to abuse and destroy and trumps nature’s right to survive intact.

While a trip to the court house might have demonstrated anew that the “law is an ass” and needs to be changed, what we had here was merely a threat to disclose circumventions, elaborations and less than honorable intentions for the sake of outrageous monetary profits, of which the environmentalists are now content to get a modest share. We could say they were “bought off,” even as Mother Nature and the public at large were “sold out,” except for the fact that considering who initiated the action makes it look more like extortion.

When the attorney for the environmentalists asserts that they didn’t get everything they wanted, one has to conclude, since SIA PROPCO II, LLC gets to realize up to forty million dollars from the sale of eight McMansion lots, that it’s the environmentalists who didn’t get as many dollars to fill their coffers, as they might have wanted. But, since none of them had any personal skin in the game, they’ve got no complaint. The threat to withhold their consent from the building of sea walls and groins, which was never an issue, put money in their purse, just as surely as the threat of hellfire fills the collection plate. It’s an old tactic, but it’s not a virtue. It’s extortion, pure and simple and not very different from the scheme Solomon had to resolve.

Honorable people would have gone to court.

An environmentalist is to the environment as an apologist is to an apology and a philatelist is to postage stamps.

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