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Can We All Agree? 2/28 edition

February 28, 2015

Filed under: Can we all agree,Journalism,Politics,Tech,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 7:41 am

Can we all agree that walking on the street in Moscow, must be pretty dangerous – especially if you’re a foe of President Putin?

Can we all agree that regulating the Internet as a public utility is the right move for the FCC despite what Comcast thinks?

Can we all agree that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of Loretta Lynch is a step in the right direction? Delayed, but at least a step.

Can we all agree that the President’s veto of the Keystone pipeline was less about the project and more about Congress’s attempt to usurp his powers.

Can we all agree that Karl Rove and the GOP seem to be the only ones still pushing an Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign?

Can we all agree that the potential shutdown of the House Speaker Boehner Holds Weekly BriefingDepartment of Homeland Security has, once again, exposed the GOP’s inability to govern?

Can we all agree that Speaker John Boehner had a better relationship with Harry Reid than he seems to have with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?

Can we all agree that the industry sponsored ballot initiative opposing the state’s ban on plastic bags runs  counter to public opinion in most of California?

Can we all agree that The Boston Red Sox effectively paying $60 million to sign an untested 19-year-old Cuban baseball player represents a new level in sports gambling?

Can we all agree that no one is surprised that a court in Argentina decided there was not enough evidence to indict their sitting president?

Can we all agree that this week’s decision not to file charges against George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin may be the right move legally, but is tough to swallow coming almost exactly 2 years from the date of the murder?

Can we all agree that Chris Christie may be running the most inept Presidential campaign since Rudi Giuliani?

Can we all agree that it will be interesting to watch Jeb Bush navigate the ultra-conservative CPAC gathering this weekend?

Can we all agree that the Oscars are still the longest and dullest show on TV but we watch anyway, just hoping someone will do something stupid?

Can we all agree that threatening journalists because they question your lies, may not be the best tactic, even if you are Bill O’Reilly and have all of Fox TV to back you?

Can we all agree that Kamala Harris is starting to look like a shoo-in as our next Senator?

Can we all agree that Keith Olbermann’s comments blasting the entire Penn State student body were inappropriate? Although some folks on campus say he was not entirely wrong.

Can we all agree that we’re happy the number of IRS audits has fallen to its lowest level in a decade and is heading lower?

"Star Trek" Los Angeles PremiereCan we all agree that the situation in the Ukraine is bad and getting absurd? Now the Russians are upset that the government has not paid for the gas that they are supplying to the rebels.

Can we all agree that we would have loved to be fly-on-the-wall when Rahm Emanuel learned he would have to face a run-off election against an unknown?

Can we all agree that, for many of us, Leonard Nimoy’s passing had more cultural significance than last weekend’s Oscar awards?

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Kensington in the Spotlight

February 22, 2015

Filed under: Health,Kensington,Management,observations,Politics — Tags: , — admin @ 10:00 am

Recently, I’ve had a few calls from friends around the country asking bluntly, “What the heck is going on in Kensington?”

For those of you who missed it, our little town has been the subject of some notoriety since it was revealed that an off-duty police officer ( and three other colleagues) drove to Reno, NV (about 3 hours) for a weekend of fun and promptly lost his gun, badge, handcuffs, and ammunition to a prostitute.kensington-ca-kensington-village-sign-welcome-to-kensington

Journalistically, the best part of the story was how the gun was recovered the next day, when the woman’s pimp apparently shot himself during a dispute when he was attempting to pawn the items.

Our local police chief “investigated” the matter for 8 months but only suspended the officer when the story became public. As you might expect, the community was a bit upset at the chief’s delay. Over 250 folks turned out for a police board meeting on the issue.

He’s now our former chief, although the suspended officer is still on the force.

Kensington is a small upper-middle class community in the East Bay hills. Our major claim to fame, until now, was that Daniel Ellsberg lived here. Over 70% of the population have, not only college degrees, but advanced degrees. The community is off the beaten track, and most of us like it that way. There are no major roads that would lead anyone to come here, unless you were on the way to your home, and most of the time when you tell someone you live in Kensington the reaction is “where’s that?”

chief

Chief Greg Harman in happier times

Plus, we pay a yearly assessment, so that we can have a police department of 10, dedicated to patrolling our streets to protect us from the rest of the world. We also have an excellent elementary school which makes this a great place to raise a family.

The spotlight that has been shining on us over the last few weeks, has been very uncomfortable.

I have no new information to reveal about what will happen next and most of you probably don’t want to know about the politics of a small, wealthy community in the Bay Area, but there are some things to note.

First, the chief and the 5-member police board to which he reports, have screwed up big time. The chief, who also acts as general manager, will no longer be serving us, and for the second time in ten years, we are looking for a new commander.

Second, a large part of the problem is based in the combination role the police chief is asked to fill. Police Chief and General Manager is just an untenable combination, which the board is finally looking into changing.

Third, a small group of dissidents is using the incident to further their own, long-standing goal of ousting the three majority board members. Additionally, they want us to combine our police force with the neighboring town of El Cerrito, which may make sense financially, but not from a public safety perspective.

This story will continue to play out over the next year. Hopefully out of the national or state-wide spotlight. My hunch is we’ll have a recall election, which will fail, and we will separate the two top posts in town, and then there will be a ballot initiative to combine our police force with our neighbor, which will also fail.

The whole battle will be quite acrimonious, and make for lots of local hand wringing, but in the end, everyone will go back to ignoring the our little town and we can all get on with our lives.

 

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Can We All Agree, 2/21/14 edition

February 21, 2015

Can we all agree that the settlement in the West Coast Port strike is little consolation for those with perishable products, or no inventory for their major season?

Can we all agree that even supporters of the ACA are tired of all the1205527976_8347 problems?

Can we all agree, it’s great to hear “Play Ball” once again? We’ll see if new rules speed up the game.

Can we all agree that everyone thinks the SNL stars they watched, were the best of the last 40 years

Can we all agree that over 6 feet of snow and temperatures approaching zero  is just unfair? Not to mention freezing rain.

Can we all agree that it’s likely the Congress will kick the can again, with a temporary funding plan on DHS?

Can we all agree that Jeb Bush is off to a bad start in the foreign policy area? He sounds like his brother, which is not good.

Can we all agree that Egypt bombing Libya is a startling new development?

Can we all agree that once again, Putin has taken the Europeans for a ride? I wonder what other border changes he wants?

Can we all agree that anything can be stopped in America if you shop around for the right judge?

RudyGiuliani-1Can we all agree that Rudy Giuliani, who told us, “The President, does not love the United States,” really needs to learn how to think on his feet? We’re still waiting for Scott Walker and the GOP to repudiate the former mayor.

Can we all agree that a four month reprieve, is not going to solve the Greek debt crises?

Can we all agree that Walmart’s decision to give raises to 500,000 employees, is a great start, but not a final answer.

Can we all agree that after 50 days, the report card on the new Congress is not good?

 

 

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Can We All Agree, 2/14/15 Edition

February 14, 2015

Can we all agree that Justice Ginsberg’s admission that she was not “100% sober” during the State of the Union speech is kind of endearing. I wonder how many others had wine with dinner?proxy

Can we all agree that Mr. Putin is schooling the EU on the Ukraine?

Can we all agree that Brian Williams may never be seen on TV again.

Can we all agree that punishing the Little Leaguers for sins of the adults is just unfair and unjustified?

Can we all agree that if a Muslim man had killed three white people, we would not be talking about a parking space?

Unknown-1  Can we all agree that no matter what end of the political    spectrum you are on, you are sad to see John Stewart leave his show?

Can we all agree that dropping out of college for a start-up is one thing, but dropping out just a few credits short, just to take a routine job, as Gov. Walker did, is a bit unusual?

Can we all agree Mr. Obama seems invigorated by his new aggressive stance on climate, ISIS, Keystone, Ukraine? Where was this 6 years ago?

Can we all agree that the Greek crisis is not going to have a happy ending for someone?

Can we all agree that David Carr’s untimely death is a monumental tragedy?

Can we all agree that Alabama’s Supreme Court’s Justice will be on the wrong side of history on gay marriage and a number of other issues?

Can we all agree that Apple and Google seem to be engaged in a new battle for supremacy as the nation’s greenest company? This is a good thing.

Can we all agree that the GOP stunt- holding a signing ceremony for the Keystone pipeline bill, that will be vetoed – will not help their reputation among independent voters?Gavin Newsom

Can we all agree that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome’s decision to run for governor is not a shock?

Can we all agree that’s it’s good news that the ‘Ebola troops’ are coming home from Africa?

Can we all agree that Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian both left their mark on NCAA basketball? Not equal marks, but marks nonetheless.

 

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Can We All Agree – 2/8/15 Edition

February 7, 2015

News and Commentary in the hope that: We Can All Agree on Something.

Can we all agree that the latest ISIS atrocity may have finally tipped the balance of public opinion in the Mideast against the terrorist group?

Can we all agree that comparing the fight against ISIS to The Crusades, as Mr. Obama did, was not a good idea, but the concept has  crossed your mind before?

katy-perry-prismatic-tour-us-2014-01-billboard-650Can we all agree that regulating the Internet as a public utility sounds like a pretty good idea?

Can we all agree that the latest GOP vote (their 56th) on repealing The Affordable Care Act, cements their image as a doomed party, beholden to ultra-conservatives, and unwilling to present an alternative agenda?

Can we all agree that the situation in the Ukraine is taking a scary turn and Mr. Putin seems to have the upper hand as long as European rulers won’t confront him.

Can we all agree that last weekend’s Super Bowl was one of the best ever – no matter which team you supported?

Can we all agree that initially, after hearing there would be a new book by Harper Lee we were all thrilled but after a closer look – a 40-year-old rejected manuscript may not be such a good idea after all?

Can we all agree that adding 275,000 jobs in a month is good news, even if it means the unemployment rate increased.

Can we all agree that the British vote to allow babies created with the DNA of three people may be a bit too close to a brave new world?

Unknown-1Can we all agree that this week’s train wreck is TV news anchor Brian Williams? As a journalist, all you have is your credibility and he has none, now.

Can we all agree that the State of New York’s decision to investigate the supplement industry will make everyone who takes supplements safer in the long run?

Can we all agree that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to tone down both his extremist rhetoric and policies, was a long time coming?

Can we all agree that watching Tiger Woods struggle on the golf course is just heartbreaking?

Can we all agree that, no matter how they wind up slicing it, the President’s $4 trillion budget is a lot of money?

Can we all agree that Democrats are disappointed, and Republicans are thrilled, that Mitt Romney decided against another Presidential run?

Can we all agree that GOP support for Elizabeth Warren is pretty transparent?

Can we all agree that the current measles outbreak could doom the anti-vaccine movement?Unknown-1

Can we all agree that the Super Bowl ads were, as usual, a mixed bag? My personal favorite was the Brady Bunch Snickers spot, but that just shows my age.

Can we all agree that Pete Carroll will be explaining his Super Bowl play calling for the rest of his career, or until he wins another Super Bowl?

Can we all agree that Katy Perry brought her ‘A’ game to the halftime show?

Can we all agree that it’s disheartening, but probably not surprising to see Robin Williams’s family fighting over his estate?

Can we all agree that no one is surprised that NFL player Johnny Manzeil is in a treatment program?

Can we all agree that the murder of a prominent Argentinean prosecutor may topple the government, which is just what President Cristina Kirchner said was the goal?

Can we all agree that Anthem’s data breach, in which ‘several million’ customer and employee records were stolen, will make little difference to them, but a big difference to those whose records were stolen?

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Another ‘Berkeley Moment’

February 2, 2015

Filed under: Journalism,observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:19 am

Berkeley gets a bad rap from those who have never lived here, but there are some vignettes that capture its essence.

Last Saturday night, just after dark, my wife and I were walking down Vine Street after a light dinner.3917514_f260-1

Vine Street is a main drag in the City’s ‘gourmet ghetto’ – a block from Chez Panisse, and Saul’s Deli – both icons , but on opposite ends of the foodie spectrum.

We’re just strolling along when we see a young man, obviously a Hasidic Jew, standing next to a parking meter. At the same time another man, slightly taller, but with glasses, and also wearing black hat, rekel (black coat) and payot (side curls) walks out a small door. After a quick hello, he asks me, “Are you Jewish?”

I’d never been asked quite that directly, but since it obviously wasn’t meant in any kind of derogatory fashion, I answered, “Why yes, we are. Is it that obvious?”

Without skipping a beat, the man in glasses responds, “Well, yes it is.”

It was clear that he had a sense of humor, so I asked, “Are you Jewish?”

He smiled and answered, “What gave it away, my glasses?”

Turns out he was just looking for congregants to make a minion (10 men) so they could say their prayers to end the Sabbath (Saturday evening).

But, It’s just one of those “only in Berkeley” moments, that makes the city so great.

And no, I did not join the minion, but that’s a more complicated question.

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