Same Government that Allows Violence, Prioritizes Taxing Soda

BoozeCourtlandRichmondCityCouncil2012-06-11.jpg “One vocal opponent of the tax is Courtland Boozé, a City Council member who calls it a hardship on poor people.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 14) Even here at a sweaty Zumba class sponsored by a nonprofit group called Weigh of Life, the city’s proposal for a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which is to appear on the November ballot, meets up against the hard realities of residents’ lives.

“What don’t I have?” asked Rita Cerda, a longtime soda devotee, ticking off her ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. She is also overweight.
“I have problems drinking water,” she said. “I don’t like water.”
The proposed tax, a license fee on businesses selling sweetened drinks, would require owners of bodegas, theaters, convenience stores and other outlets to tally ounces sold and, presumably, pass the cost on to customers.
. . .
Courtland Boozé is a City Council member and a vocal opponent of the soda tax. “We are primarily an economically suppressed community,” he said. “It will be a huge hardship.
“I eat sweet potato pie and candied yams,” continued Mr. Boozé, who is from Louisiana. “And what about cupcakes? Are they going to tax those?”
The city’s Chamber of Commerce is also opposed to the tax. A group fighting the tax that includes the beverage industry has begun dropping off “Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes” placards at La Flore de Jalisco Market, a small, cheerful grocery store where soda bottles in dozens of hues match the colorful piñatas hanging from the ceiling.
. . .
Charles Finnie, known as Chuck, a vice president of BMWL, a San Francisco lobbying firm, called the tax “an administrative nightmare for local businesses” that would also put them at a competitive disadvantage, with customers opting for cheaper soda in nearby cities.
. . .
At the RYSE Youth Center, founded 12 years ago after the killing of four high school students, the soda issue seemed both close to the heart and far away.
Kayla Miller, an 18-year-old college freshman, said that if complexion problems from too much sugar would not deter her friends from drinking sodas, neither would a tax.
Shivneel Sen, 14, does not favor the tax but knows how the money should be spent if it passes.
“The police came heck of late,” he said, recalling the recent death of a best friend. “We need more of them.”
Kimberly Aceves, the center’s executive director, says that too often, the burden for making healthy choices falls unfairly on young people. Society may say “go exercise,” she said, “but if the community isn’t safe, how many kids are going to go out running?”
“Soda is bad for you,” Ms. Aceves said. “So is violence.”

For the full story, see:
PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN. “RICHMOND JOURNAL; Plan to Tax Soda Gets a Mixed Reception.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., June 3, 2012): 14.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date June 2, 2012.)

Lucasfilm Will Build Somewhere “That Sees Us as a Creative Asset, Not as an Evil Empire”

LucasValleyMarinCounty2012-05-30.jpg “Lucas Valley in Marin County, Calif., where residents’ objections led George Lucas to abandon a bid to expand operations at a new site near Skywalker Ranch.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A13) SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — In 1978, a year after “Star Wars” was released, George Lucas began building his movie production company far from Hollywood, in the quiet hills and valley of Marin County here just north of San Francisco. Starting with Skywalker Ranch, the various pieces of Lucasfilm came together over the decades behind the large trees on his 6,100-acre property, invisible from the single two-lane road that snakes through the area.

And even as his fame grew, Mr. Lucas earned his neighbors’ respect through his discretion. Marin, one of America’s richest counties, liked it that way.
But after spending years and millions of dollars, Mr. Lucas abruptly canceled plans recently for the third, and most likely last, major expansion, citing community opposition. An emotional statement posted online said Lucasfilm would build instead in a place “that sees us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.”
If the announcement took Marin by surprise, it was nothing compared with what came next. Mr. Lucas said he would sell the land to a developer to bring “low income housing” here.
. . .
Whatever Mr. Lucas’s intentions, his announcement has unsettled a county whose famously liberal politics often sits uncomfortably with the issue of low-cost housing and where battles have been fought over such construction before. His proposal has pitted neighbor against neighbor, who, after failed peacemaking efforts over local artisanal cheese and wine, traded accusations in the local newspaper.
The staunchest opponents of Lucasfilm’s expansion are now being accused of driving away the filmmaker and opening the door to a low-income housing development. That has created an atmosphere that one opponent, who asked not to be identified, saying she feared for her safety, described as “sheer terror” and likened to “Syria.”
Carl Fricke, a board member of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, which represents houses nearest to the Lucas property, said: “We got letters saying, ‘You guys are going to get what you deserve. You’re going to bring drug dealers, all this crime and lowlife in here.’ “

For the full story, see:
NORIMITSU ONISHI. “A Pyrrhic Victory for Foes of a New Lucasfilm Project; In Lieu of digital Studio, Plan for Low-Income Homes.” The New York Times (Tues., May 22, 2012): A13 & A19.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated May 21, 2012 and has the title “Lucas and Rich Neighbors Agree to Disagree: Part II.”)

LucasGeorge2012-05-30.jpg “Mr. Lucas said Marin needs affordable housing. A resident called his plan “class warfare.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

Four Million Former Californians Voted with Their Feet

KotkinJoel2012-04-30.jpg

Joel Kotkin. Source of image: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A13) ‘California is God’s best moment,” says Joel Kotkin. “It’s the best place in the world to live.” Or at least it used to be.
. . .
Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving. According to Mr. Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the ages of 5 and 14 or 34 to 45. In other words, young families.
. . .
“Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don’t have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” says Mr. Kotkin.
. . .
And things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their “smart growth” plans to cram the proletariat into high-density housing. “What I find reprehensible beyond belief is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s,” Mr. Kotkin declares.
“The new regime”–his name for progressive apparatchiks who run California’s government–“wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California in order to protect their own lifestyles.”
Housing is merely one front of what he calls the “progressive war on the middle class.” Another is the cap-and-trade law AB32, which will raise the cost of energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global carbon emissions. Then there are the renewable portfolio standards, which mandate that a third of the state’s energy come from renewable sources like wind and the sun by 2020. California’s electricity prices are already 50% higher than the national average.
Oh, and don’t forget the $100 billion bullet train. Mr. Kotkin calls the runaway-cost train “classic California.” “Where [Brown] with the state going bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We’re still doing much worse than the rest of the country, we’ve got this growing permanent welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?”

For the full interview, see:
ALLYSIA FINLEY, interviewer. “THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW with Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus; A leading U.S. demographer and ‘Truman Democrat’ talks about what is driving the middle class out of the Golden State.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 21, 2012): A13.
(Note: ellipses added; bracketed words in original.)
(Note: the online version of the interview is dated April 20, 2012.)

Steve Jobs Channels Ellis Wyatt

(p. 260) In 2007 Forbes magazine named Steve Jobs the highest-paid exec-(p. 261)utive of any of America’s five hundred largest companies, based on gains in the value of stock granted to him at Apple. He was on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co. Yet his former residence in Woodside, where he had once met with Catmull and Smith and mused about buying Lucasfilm’s Computer Division, was now in a state of decay under his ownership.
He had wanted to demolish it; after a group of neighborhood residents opposed his plan to do so, he left the house open to the elements. The interior suffered damage from water and mold. Vines crept up the stucco walls and wandered inside.
The memories that haunted its hallways were those of Jobs’s darkest times. He had bought the house only months before the humiliation of his firing from Apple; he lived in it through that firing and through the hard, money-hemorrhaging years of Pixar and NeXT. He left it as his fortunes were about to change, as he was sending Microsoft away from Pixar, convinced that he had something he should hold on to.
When a judge ruled against his quest for a demolition permit, Jobs appealed in 2006 and 2007 all the way to the California Supreme Court, but he lost at every stage. He received proposals from property owners offering to cart the house away in sections and restore it elsewhere; he rejected them. One way or another, it seemed, he meant for the house to be destroyed.

Source:
Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
(Note: italics in original.)
(Note: The passage above is from the Epilogue and the pages given above are from the hardback edition (pp. 260-261). The identical passage also appears in the 2009 paperback edition, but on p. 265.

California Vegan Defends Freedom to Choose McDonald’s

WarehamEllsworthVegan2012-01-21.jpg “Ellsworth Wareham, 97, in Loma Linda, Calif. Mr. Wareham was a heart surgeon who stopped working only two years ago. He is a vegan, but says choice is part of the “great American system.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A15) . . . last week, when the City Council approved Loma Linda’s first McDonald’s restaurant, many residents bemoaned the decision, worrying that the officials were jeopardizing the city’s reputation as a paragon of healthy lifestyles.
. . .
. . . , Dr. Rigsby [said] . . . he would support having a citywide vote on whether fast-food outlets should be banned entirely from the city. “If this is something that people are really opposed to, that’s how we should deal with it.”
What would happen during such a vote is anyone’s guess. Ellsworth Wareham, who stopped working as a heart surgeon only two years ago, at 95, is often used as an example of someone with more energy than someone half his age. Dr. Wareham attributes his health at least partly to the fact that he has been a vegan for the last 30 or 40 years (he does not remember precisely).
Eating at home, he said, is the best way to ensure that one is eating healthy food. He is certainly not about to let the impending arrival of McDonald’s raise his blood pressure.
“I don’t subscribe to the menu that these dear people put out, but let’s face it, the average eating place serves food that is, let us say, a little bit of a higher quality, but the end result is the same — it’s unhealthy,” he said.
“They can put it right next to the church as far as I am concerned,” Dr. Wareham added. “If they choose to eat that way, I’m not going to stop them. That’s the great American system.”

For the full story, see:
JENNIFER MEDINA. “LOMA LINDA JOURNAL; Fast-Food Outlet Stirs Concerns in a Mecca of Healthy Living.” The New York Times (Mon., December 19, 2011): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated December 18, 2011.)

“It’s Our Right to Choose What We Want to Put in Our Bodies”

FoodSovereigntySign2011-08-06.jpg “Protesters outside the Los Angeles Courthouse on Thursday denounced the police’s moves against Rawesome, which offers raw milk products.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

LOS ANGELES — Raw food enthusiasts fit right in here, in the earthy, health-conscious beach communities of Venice and Santa Monica, along with the farmers’ markets, health food stores and vegan restaurants.

But this week, the police cleared the shelves of Rawesome, an establishment in Venice Beach, loading $70,000 of raw, organic produce and dairy products on the back of a flatbed truck.
And then, on Thursday, James Stewart, the proprietor, was arraigned on charges of illegally making, improperly labeling and illegally selling raw milk products, as well as other charges related to Rawesome’s operations. Two farmers who work with Rawesome were also named in the district attorney’s complaint.
. . .
The raid on Rawesome has riled people here who say that unpasteurized milk is safer and healthier. About 150 raw food advocates gathered at the Los Angeles County Courthouse on Thursday to oppose the crackdown.
“It’s our right to choose what we want to put in our bodies,” Ms. Buttery said. “When members filled out an application, they were saying they wanted natural bacteria in their systems. We don’t want labeling. We don’t want animals full of antibiotics.”

For the full story, see:
IAN LOVETT. “Raw Food Co-op Is Raided in California.” The New York Times (Fri., August 5, 2011): A11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated August 4, 2011.)

Budgetless California Legislature Votes to Create “Motorcycle Awareness Month”

(p. A1) SACRAMENTO, Calif.–On the brink of insolvency, California may have to pay its bills with IOUs soon. A budget was due three months ago, and the legislature hasn’t passed one.

The lawmakers can, however, point to a list of other achievements this year. Awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature, for example, is a bill that would bar the state from filming cows in New Zealand. It’s the fruit of five committee votes and eight legislative analyses.
California lawmakers also voted to form a lobster commission. They created “Motorcycle Awareness Month,” not to mention a “Cuss Free Week.”

For the full story, see:
STU WOO. “There’s No Budget, but California Is All Over the Foreign-Cow Issue; As Deficit Looms, Lawmakers Promulgate ‘Cuss Free Week,’ Defend the State Rock.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., SEPTEMBER 28, 2010): A1 & A18.