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Opinion and Analysis from the Grassroots

This Is How We Decide?
By Ruth Gadebusch

Ruth Gadebusch
Ruth Gadebusch

The air is alive with sound, and every bare spot is filled with signs. Of course, I refer to all the political advertisements with which we are inundated.  Each election seems to top the last in the amount of money spent by campaigns.

It is annoying at best to never be able to get away from it.  Signs everywhere, and sometimes it seems that the time allotted to programs on TV is less than to commercials, political and otherwise.  Perhaps the most frightening aspect is how well it works.

To think that our fate is sealed by the 30-and 60-second shots makes one’s hair stand on end. Worse yet is that most of it is negative. I am old enough to remember when advertising was geared to the positives of the candidate, or, for that matter, when the competing product was never named. Now the focus is on the negatives of the opposition candidate. At least, product advertising still ballyhoos the product by saying it is better than the other brand. Not so, with the political ads concentrating on the negative of the opposition, saying little about what s/he stands for.

Oh yes, there is one time when they state what they ostensibly stand for. Never have I heard so many proclaiming how conservative they are.  Never mind that this is a newly developed adoration.  They must outdo the heroes of the conservative movement in their devotion.

Blessedly, the signs dotting the landscape don’t have much more than the candidate’s name. Let us hope they all disappear following the June election.

The ads can be so simple, so perfect, yet cloak the true meaning. People in need will vote for the candidate most loudly proclaiming that s/he will end welfare. Young people will vote against any tax increase without noticing that the resulting debt will be left
entirely on their shoulders. The loudest anti-government screamers are quick to accept government largess that benefits them. It is all those people over there somewhere doing the abusing.

It matters not that we all use government services such as police, fire, roads, water, and on and on. We all suffer too when government fails as in our current outgo outpacing income-principally because we like that service more than we like paying for it and the politicians who cater instead of leading.

Given the legislative district setups in California, we hardly need bother to hold an election.  The grip of the assigned party is near impossible to overcome, designed to ensure their personal survival with both major political parties participating in this desecration of fair government.

California’s initiative process is a prime example of good intentions run amok. Written in an earlier time, the required signatures are far too few for the current population. Most assuredly, paid signature gathers were not anticipated. It was unimaginable that a public utility and an insurance company would be able to put on the ballot initiatives that benefit them and them alone. Ironically, a simple majority could pass one that requires a two-thirds vote once enacted.

Another California anomaly is our setup of many and varied districts. Often they are so below the horizon that there is no competition for office. Yet they cost to operate. It is said that organizations only change when they are lean and hungry, not fat and sassy. One  would think these perilous financial times might cause some consideration of unification for efficiency and common sense, however,  territoriality is so strong that no  strong voice is given to such a notion.

In fact, it seems that  all too many of our “solutions” to current problems will only cause more woe in the future. Prevention takes a back seat to remediation, despite greater cost for the latter. Civic education, with which I include ethics, is already in short supply, getting more so with education cuts. We will not have better government until and unless we do more educating of government functioning and our own responsibility. The advertising that prevails in today’s elections is not going to do it. Even if the ads were more positive and informative, they would be inadequate.

Serious, thoughtful consideration, seemingly in short supply, is desperately needed.
*****
Ruth Gadebusch is a former member of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  She continues to be active in various community endeavors.

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Planet Earth Volunteers
By Geo Madrid

Well folks, soon the rivers will be overflowing with snow runoff water. You could take time off from volunteer service and head out to join the whitewater rafting or go the Mono Hot Mineral water baths for a little R&R. All in all, you deserve it. However, the volunteer work is always needed as the budgets are cut, leaving paid jobs to be done by volunteers like you and me.

May was one busy month. May was perfect days for cleaning rivers, planting trees and maintenance work on preserves and community events. Our communities need us more than ever, so let’s face the challenge.

As I mentioned previously, June, July and August are slow months due to the heat. However, for some preserves these are busy months. School lets out and volunteers are needed for summer camps and kids outdoor events.

Visalia
The Kaweah Oaks Preserve now has five more land areas added to the preservation of land and ranches from development: Homer Ranch, Dry Creek Preserve, Lewis Hill, James K. Herbert and Blue Oak Ranch. Volunteers are badly needed as naturalists, which are critical members of the Environment Team. Please help us teach kids about nature. Contact Laura Childers at laura@sequoiariverlands.org or 559-738-00211, ext. 105.

Carrizo Plain
Monitor classes for the protection of the Painted Rock Indian Archeology site. You will learn how and where to monitor. You can camp out over the weekend, so it is fun and work at the same time. Experience the feel of the open space and the sacred sites you will be asked to monitor. Contact the Friends of Carrizo Plain and join as a volunteer. You can lead docent walks to the Painted Rock. The Friends of Carrizo Plain spend New Year’s Eve working on fencing and then watch the New Year come in with a glass of wine. Contact Kenneth Hocks at the Bakersfield Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management at khock@ca.blm.gov.

Visalia
This invitation might be a volunteer’s dream. The Southern Sierra Archeology Society is taking members to join them for recording Indian basins. We GPS the location after carefully recording the measurements of each grinding hole and the basin. This information is sent to California State University, Bakersfield, which stores the information for the western United States. E-mail geodrid@sbcglobal.net. The dues are $10, which should be sent to 12675 Avenue 416, Orosi, CA 93647; make the check payable to “SSAS.” See you there.

Visalia
The Tulare County Audubon Society will be doing a trip to the Great Divide in the high Sierra. This is a camp over. There will be lots of birding in the high country as the weather warms up in the Valley. Contact John Lockhart at jflockart@sbcglobal.net or
559-303-9706. Learn more about the birders and how to protect more wetlands for the birds.

Fresno
The Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust are in bad need of docents for summer outings and campouts for kids this summer. Could you volunteer some of your time? The parkway has become a national treasure for Fresno and Clovis. It spans 22 miles as the goal to reach. Come in the evening and run, walk and bike the trails. Get away from the TV that is keeping your blood from circulating and causing heart problems. Come join us for fun in the sun. Contact Stephanie Bratcher at sbratcher@riverpark.org or 559-248-8480, ext. 106. You may ride your bike or walk it to the Ranch House on Old River Road. See you there.

Keep an eye out for volunteer work for Little Creature Rehab centers. These birds have been injured and require cleaning and feeding. Give your time during the week and on weekends. Hawks are a pleasure to hold. Wear leather gloves of course.

Let me know if you need your place on the Planet Earth Volunteer list of the grassroots section of this paper to be listed. As my Pima grandfather would say, take what you need and share the rest.
*****
George Madrid (Geo) can be reached at geodrid@sbcglobal.net or 559-623-3233.

Ruth Gadebusch, a community activist, is a veteran, a former member of the Fresno Unified Board of Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Civic Education.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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