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John Stewart

Earth Day - 2009 Style

April 22 is fashionably known as "Earth Day".  First observed in 1970, the angst was the world is growing colder and man is to blame.  Today, the angst is the world is growing warmer and man is to blame.

Surly there must be some news about Earth Day that provides an optimistic view of someone doing something.  Alas, all that fills the newswires today is press releases touting how companies are green and will become "greener" if you spend your "green" (as in cash) with them.

Commercialism has replaced idealism.  California Air Resources Board continues to drive stake after stake into a struggling economy.  On the Federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency continues to ignore science in favor of politics.

What?  You say that was the EPA tactic under the last administration?  This administration is going to base decisions on science? Sorry, it is still politics and politically correct thinking that trump science.

Science seeks answers to questions.  The pundits at CARB and EPA have no use for science as they believe they have the answers and science gets in the way of carrying out their politically correct thinking.

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John Stewart

It's the ECONOMY, Stupid!

Considering California political history, a big payday is in store for political campaign consultants and funding from political action committees to protect the special interests at stake.

Overall, it will cost more to buy things (sales tax increase) and general income tax increase.  The devil is in the details and there are few details available.

As posted on my BLOG on Mar 17, 2009:

Without much of an intermission, the California budget fiasco roared to life with revelation that spending is exceeding revenue and an additional $8 billion shortfall is expected.

There is a profound observation by John Adams - “In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.”

Or, in the case of California, change “congress” to “legislature”.....

According to news reports, there is a flurry of activity to figure out how to raise taxes even more.

Seems the “budget cuts” from Round 1 were only reductions on amounts proposed to be spent.  That is still an INCREASE from previous spending levels.

And, the shortfall continues, the spending continues, and no one wants to propose real solutions......

The first step in triage is stop the bleeding.  In the case of government, stop spending more than you have....

The “Ugly Budget” - Round 3 is coming....

The infamous ‘special election’.  Can’t wait for the puffing and posturing.

As posted in my BLOG on May 4, 2009:

Okay, the California legislators managed to pass a state budget that depends on getting the voters to approve certain steps.

Within days of passing the budget and declaring the state in in financial harmony, word came out that the state budget is another $8 billion plus in the deficit column.  So much for financial harmony.

That brings us to Round 3 of the “Ugly Budget”.  A special election (at significant cost to the state - increasing the deficit) is scheduled for May 19.  On that day, voters will accept or reject some combination of five ballot propositions.

Prop A ensures that selected residents will pay higher state income tax and EVERY person that buys something in the state will pay an increased sales tax.  In addition, funds will be set aside in a “rainy day” account.

Funny thing about the “rainy day” account.  Funds are only applied if certain conditions are met.  And, due to a companion proposition (Prop B), there is little chance of those conditions being met.

You see, Prop B “restores” funding for schools.  But, the “restored” funds is funds that were never taken away, because they were not in the budget to begin with.  The “cuts” to the education budget reflect a reduction in that amount that was REQUESTED, which was a significant increase (greater than inflation) over the past year.

The “doom and gloom” pundits are now tugging at the heart strings predicting dire cuts in fire fighters and police officers if Props A and B don’t pass.

Seems as education has taken a back seat as recent frivolities within the state system have shown significant waste within the education system.  

Voter polls have four of the five propositions sitting with about a 40% approval rating.  

So, the special election is coming.  The “elected” representatives have failed to do due diligence and exercise fiduciary responsibility.  They bounced that hot potato back to the voters.

Will the voters exercise fiduciary responsibility and bounce the hot potato back to the legislature?

Exciting times await.  May 19 will be an interesting day.  And, the days leading up will be spin to make your head spin....

As posted in my BLOG on May 20, 2009:

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John Stewart

Small vs. Big - Size does matter

As I sit in the airport, crash testing of cars is headline topic.  Seems that after years of vilifying SUVs as the “enemy” endangering mid-size and smaller cars, things have changed.

SUVs are being phased out.  Still, small cars are being damaged in collisions with larger cars.  This time, the villain is “mid-size” cars.

A rational person understands, small cars are dangerous.  The media talking heads are still adamant that size does matter.  Remove all but small cars and small cars will stand a better chance in a crash....

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John Stewart

New Year 2010

Forest Plan Revisions. This is part of the administrative process where the Forest Service is develops the guidelines for managing the national forests.  In 2009, the Forest Planning Rule was halted by court order.  The downside is confusion over which set of "rules" will guide the planning process.  The upside is a new planning rule is expected which will encourage collaborative processes to develop future forest plans.  This move requires active involvement with the Forest Service to identify and protect recreation opportunutuies.  A tough challenge when people are concerned about their jobs.

Wilderness. The 111th Congress is on the verge of moving long stalled wilderness proposals.  There is pressure on Congress to set aside large swaths of public lands as wilderness.   And, there is a growing move to re-define wilderness: from preservation to protection.  We need to support efforts to protect our public lands while allowing enjoyment of the recreation opportunity provided.

Image. Motorized recreation continues to be marked as “destroyers of the environment”.  Image does affect land management decisions when protection of resources is considered.  Our image is projected to the public though advertising and our own web sites.

Coalition Building. Motorized recreation is characterized by many facets, each with its own set of advocates.  We need to build a coalition of the different facets to develop strategy and set priorities for addressing issues common to all.  While we may recreate in different manners, we are bound by two common elements.  We use a motorized vehicle and we need access to a place for recreation.

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John Stewart

Politics and Wheeling Opportunity

So, what does that have to do with wheeling opportunities?  Well, the current administration is poised to move a political agenda that will insert government control into every aspect of daily life.  Waiting under the wings of health care are a series of massive wilderness proposals that will set aside vast tracks of public lands as non-motorized, non-development areas.

Recreation is concerned about development of public lands as development reduces recreation opportunity.  While wilderness designation halts potential development, one has to ask just what "development" is being halted?

In the southwest, that development is alternative energy.  In Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, that development is oil and gas production.  At a time when "green energy" is being touted as jobs and economy growth, vast tracts of land suitable for "green energy" development are about to be placed into wilderness.  At a time when politicians call for reducing dependance on foreign oil for energy, domestic energy supplies are being placed off-limits in wilderness areas.

So, all eyes are on Massachusetts and the January 19 special election.  Seating a Republican from a traditionally "blue" state has a potential significant impact on the social agenda of the current administration.

There are interesting implications from this special election with potential implications to the November 2, 2010 General Election.

Do you know where your elected representatives stand?

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