For the last 10 years or so, I have been writing articles for this newspaper under the banner of “Coastal Voices.”
The basic theme of these articles has been how state and federal legislation affects, you, the local Del Norter.
For example, last May I warned you about the insane legislation that was moving through the state Legislature that mandated that schoolchildren could use whatever bathrooms and other school facilities that were consistent with their gender identity. In other words boys could use girls’ bathrooms, girls could play sports on boys’ teams and, well, you get the picture.
Locals here in Del Norte County said that outrageous legislation could never pass and become law, yet here we are in 2014 having to adjust to that new law, although its implementation is suspended thanks to an initiative to repeal it.
In that same Coastal Voices article, I wrote about the “living dead,” California tax laws that were supposed to expire, yet lived to continue to tax us because the state Legislature quietly, in the dead of night, when no one was looking, extended them.
In an earlier article, I pointed out how hypocritical it was for the Legislature and governor to give the impression that more money was going to schools when the facts showed that no new money was coming to Del Norte County schools, but just those millions of dollars that had been stolen by the state in the name of “deferrals.” In other words they were going to pay back some of the monies they took from our schools and call it an increase.
These Coastal Voices articles have appeared in the newspaper on average about every six weeks. Now, they will appear on a regular basis about every two weeks beginning in February.
They will not be Coastal Voices articles but will have a new name. Rather than a name chosen by the editor or me, I would hope that you would suggest a name that could fit, not more than four words, and be pithy. The best suggestion would be chosen and the winner would get credit in the first column.
But wait, there’s more. Remember the illegal fire fee/tax? This is the one where the state of California has been extorting $150 per year from only rural folks like us to support the forest fires that occur mainly in Southern California. All large cities and towns were exempt.
Last year I pointed out that there was legislation moving in the Legislature to repeal this fee/tax. Well, what happened? In upcoming articles I will explore the progress or lack of it on this issue and also get an answer from our local Assembly member and state senator on where they stand on this and what action they are prepared to take to repeal this fee/tax. By the way, I call it a fee/tax because even the state can’t figure what it really is.
Some articles may have a tongue-in-cheek quality and you just may have to figure where I am coming from. For instance, the article I wrote that the government restricts where people can smoke and has imposed exorbitant taxes on cigarettes, yet refuses to outlaw the use of tobacco even thought the government insists on mandating warnings be put on each pack.
I suggested that the government wants people to continue to smoke because it lowers the overall cost of providing Social Security benefits. The fact is that most smokers die earlier than nonsmokers and therefore the government saves on years of providing Social Security checks for them.
The aim of these articles is to get you thinking about the issues that face us as a community and, if need be, get you involved in taking action. The highest compliment you can pay me is to write a letter to the editor stating your reason why my opinion is way off the mark or the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Bob Berkowitz is a Crescent City resident and president of LifeStyles Research Co.