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Hilbert Morales  PUBLISHER

Hilbert Morales
PUBLISHER

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Perhaps the reason why many do not speak up about the many ‘dumb things’ which happen all the time at the local, county, state and national levels of governance is because we have all become used to seeing our elected officials being diverted by special interests. Many of us do not think that the ideals of democracy exist anymore. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” attitudes have been supplanted by the continuing pursuit of self-interest as measured by profits which end up in well protected private silos. Begin with the U.S. Supreme Court and their recent decision which gave corporations ‘personhood’, followed by the next decision to give them the right of free speech through the expenditure of their money. were both astounding. Today many multinational corporations protect their profits by leaving them offshore to avoid paying taxes. Where is the corporate sense of fair and evenhanded stewardship?

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The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that certain provisions of the original voting rights law are now ‘unconstitutional’. The outcome is that many states , governed by elected Republican governors, are now enacting state laws which make it more difficult for low income registered voters to vote in any election. This is a not so subtle effort to ensure that the next election results in having a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate.We must understand that special interest lobbyists have created the most inactive, ineffective U.S. Congress that money can influence. That money was aggregated as ‘profits’ by corporations who in turn created those billionaires who are influencing much with their money. After the U.S. Supreme Court ‘Citizens United’ ruling, Charles and David Koch (Republican; crude oil moguls) created and funded (guesstimated at $140 million) their Americans for Prosperity ‘Super- PAC’; Joe Ricketts and son Todd (Republican; Chicago Cubs co-owners) funded “Ending Spending” with $25 million. Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, (Republican with $37.9 billion) hosted several potential presidential candidates, one of whom was Jeb Bush (former Republican Governor, Florida).

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The Democrats have their own billionaires: Tom Steyer (a hedge fund manager) and Michael Bloomberg (publisher & former NYC Mayor). Both have funded their own PACs. Check it out by googling ‘The Center for Responsible Politics’. All of these “private PACs” are outspending both Democratic and Republican Parties by a margin of at least 2:1 especially in the U.S. Senate re-election races. Robert Reich writes, “America is not yet an oligarchy. American democracy used to depend on political parties that more or less represented most of us” (S.F. Chronicle, April 6, 2014).

Let’s now go to the State of California whose Governor Jerry Brown favors the High Speed Rail Project (HSR) and the continued diversion of Sacramento River water to Southern California’s population centers. These two projects need modification: HSR needs to go to the Shasta Lake area first to encourage a higher population density in Northern California. The Delta Pipeline Project needs to be augmented or replaced by creating more capacity to recycle water and to produce potable water from seawater, using solar and wind energy sources. It is very important to begin development of potable water production from seawater since this adds needed reliable capacity through the applicable technology already extant (outcome: many jobs). Also, California and many of its county and local jurisdictions need to deal with unfunded pension programs which were created back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The City of San Jose, with Mayor Chuck Reed as champion, is trying to address its pension issues. The most important one deals with public safety and security. Somehow police and firefighters need to negotiate a feasible resolution to current staffing issues. The SJFD is providing the best possible medical and fire emergency response time with a very low staffing rate. The same applies to the SJPD trying to deal with crime and public safety with its current low staffing level. Local school districts need to focus upon the graduation of more students earning high school diplomas. This requires teaching the Common Core Curriculum and the Local Community Funding Formula which require informing and engaging student’s parents.

What can an individual do? Begin to apply a ‘checks and balance systems’ in full transparency. Plan to vote on Tuesday, June 3rd. All 165 million voters can and will ensure democracy with their vote this coming Tuesday, June 3, 2014. We can deal with all these various challenges at all levels of our nation’s governance by voting.

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