Thanksgiving Blog Holiday

Back on Monday, November 30, 2020.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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During the Tumult

It is worthwhile to note the words from Federalist Paper 68, written by Alexander Hamilton in 1788.

An excerpt.

“To the People of the State of New York:

“The mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.E1

“It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

“It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

“It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

“Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

“All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says:

“For forms of government let fools contest —
That which is best administered is best,” —
Retrieved November 20, 2020 from https://thefederalistpapers.org/federalist-paper-68

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Sacramento Levee Work Almost Done

Good news from Dredging Today.

The story.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District has just announced that the work on the Sacramento River East Levee in the Pocket is nearing its conclusion.

“As reported by the Corps, the crews are in the process of rebuilding the levee at five locations between Miller Park and the Freeport Regional Water Intake Facility.

“The photo near Sutterville Rd shows the rebuilt levee and paved bike trail there.

“USACE will wrap up levee construction work for this season by the end of November, with the bike trail reopening set for the end of the year.

“This $64 million contract for the Sacramento River East Levee repairs was awarded to Maloney Odin Joint Venture of Novato, California. Overall, the project calls for nearly three miles of levee improvement works.

“The scheme is part of the American River Common Features program work, which is a collaborative effort between USACE, California’s Central Valley Flood Protection Board, California Department of Water Resources and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA).

“The project will modernize Sacramento’s aging flood infrastructure for more than 500,000 people in the greater Sacramento region.”

Retrieved November 17, 2020 from https://www.dredgingtoday.com/2020/11/16/work-on-the-sacramento-river-east-levee-almost-done/

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Big Storm Coming

Wonderful news–but be aware of flooding potential–from KXTV.

An excerpt.

“Northern California kicked off mid November with a dry, sunny Monday before the weather changed on Tuesday.  

“Tuesday morning, the winds will kick in for the high Sierra and the east side of the Sierra, with gusts up to 30 mph for Truckee and the Tahoe Basin, with much higher gusts of at least 60 mph over the top of the Sierra.

“Clouds will also begin to move in on Tuesday morning in the Valley, with breezy conditions ahead of the heavier rain by the afternoon. Most Valley locations will seen rain move in after the morning commute, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“Some areas wills see enough rain to cause ponding on roads and localized street flooding with leaves clogging drains. Burn areas with higher rain rates may see some mudslides on saturated ground.  

“The Valley rain will continue throughout Tuesday, becoming lighter and more scattered by Wednesday afternoon and evening. Temperatures will stay in the low 60s for the Valley for the remainder of the week.

“The Sierra is set to experience a warmer storm than last Friday, with higher snow levels. The snow should stick to around 6,500 feet for most of Tuesday and part of Wednesday.

“This means mostly rain for the Foothills until drivers get to the passes. Snow over the passes will lead to chain controls and whiteout conditions at times. For the Resorts, 2-3 feet of snow is possible between Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Valley rain will likely total more than 0.50” between Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Retrieved November 17, 2020 from https://www.abc10.com/article/weather/week-of-nov-16-forecast/103-2d2b0928-1d96-4ca4-b6cc-5ad216842110

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Going to the Suburbs

Increasing, during the age of the virus, as this story from One America News reports.

The story.

“With working-from-home becoming the norm, the housing market is growing due to low mortgage rates and a surge in housing demand.

“The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, reported this week that despite recent bumps following news of a possible vaccine, rates are still about one percent lower than they were a year ago.

“This comes as the Mortgage Bankers Association found mortgage applications to purchase a home are up compared to the same time last year. According to the National Association of Realtors, the increase in demand has been reported across the country and is leading to an increase in home prices.

“We’re at the early stages of really a monumental rise in home prices that we think is going to be tremendous for the builders, particularly for their margins,” explained Stephen Kim, an analyst at Evercore ISI. “And I think we are actually pretty much on the end of this.”

“Specifically, the biggest jumps in pricing were seen in the suburban areas outside of major cities like the 27.3 percent jump in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is just north of Long Island.

“A third-quarter report by gig-work site Upwork found that between 14 to 23 million people are considering moving due to working remotely with one-in-five of them moving away from their current homes in major cities.

“As a result, landlords in major cities are desperate to lure back tenants with New York City real estate appraiser Miller Samuel reporting Friday the rise in apartment vacancies in the five boroughs has lead to one of the most dramatic drops in rent in recent years.”

Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://www.oann.com/housing-market-grows-as-people-leave-cities-for-suburbs/

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Rain Today

Good news from KCRA.

An excerpt.

“Snow and rain are expected across Northern California on Friday.

“While Thursday had cool temps with sun and clouds, the change in weather is expected later the following day.

“Here’s what you need to know:

“RAIN

“In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley, Friday will see increasing clouds and a dry morning.

“The best chance of Valley rain will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“The Valley could see 0.10 inches of rain. The foothills will see around 0.25 inches of rain.

“SNOW

“The Sierra will see snow during the afternoon and early evening hours, with 3 to 6 inches of snow above 6,000 feet elevation.

“WEEKEND

“The rain and snow are expected to leave the region by 10 p.m. Friday, leading to a dry weekend.”

Retrieved November 13, 2020 from https://www.kcra.com/article/rain-snow-expected-in-norcal-on-friday/34662102

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245Th Birthday of the Marines

Great story about this so important part of our heritage.

An excerpt, from American Greatness.

“On this 245th birthday of my Marine Corps, I am thinking about why this annual November 10 birthday celebration and simply being a Marine are so important to those of us who have worn the eagle, globe, and anchor. Some might say it has much to do with what it takes to become a Marine. Perhaps. But I would argue it has less to do with boot camp or officer candidate school rites of passage—which really have more to do with determining a recruit or candidate’s suitability to be a Marine—and everything to do with post-boot experiences, shared hardships, and an unusual stretch of time in our lives, whether four years or 40, that largely define who we are and will forever be.

“That’s also why the cultural degradation of the Corps since 2008 is so disheartening to Marines, especially for those of us in the ever-prized Infantry military occupational specialties. I won’t get into all of that today except to say it is what it is, and that the reputation as being collectively “a few good men” has always been the lifeblood of the Corps.

“For us, it has never been about big budgets, high-tech toys, and big-ticket items like tanks and ships or even airplanes really (though we have spent quite a lot of our tiny budget on aircraft and pioneering the use of military aviation in support of ground forces over the decades).

“For Marines, it has always been about being part of the most elite combined-arms expeditionary force in the world, being a rifleman, being part of something with enormous tradition, and being all of these things with few resources.

“Someone once said all it takes is a rifle, a bucket, a brush, and a drill field to make a Marine. And there is some truth to that. For as long as there are men with rifles, drill instructors, a place to train, and enemies to fight; there can be Marines. And as long as there are Marines, especially of the Old Corps caliber, there will always be something truly unique within America’s broader military establishment. Not that there aren’t other unique elements within the American military establishment: There are. But none exactly like Marines where culture, reputation, and the legacy of the leatherneck are everything.

“So this morning as I penned these words, I considered my own time in the Corps, and how the most rewarding job I’ve ever had in all my 61 years so far has been that of a U.S. Marine rifle squad leader. Of course, I had other jobs in the Corps, and a few since, but nothing nearly as life-defining: Being a young man and having the responsibility of leading young Marines changed everything for me. I’ve also considered the fact that no matter how many years a Marine spends in the Corps, his experiences in the Corps are, well, remarkably special, and unlike anything else.

“Take, for example, USMC Major General (Ret.) Jim Livingston, recipient of the Medal of Honor. General Livingston’s story is the stuff of legend. He’s a proverbial superman. But then I realized, in many ways, so is every other Marine I’ve known throughout my life who has ever humped a pack and a rifle.

“And I’ve known many, like my close friend and fellow Marine, Colonel (Ret.) Steve Vitali, one of the kindest, gentlest, most unassuming, always-smiling, seemingly regular guys I know. He adores his wife and daughter. Loves his grandson. Takes care of his buddies. Spends frequent quality time with his 92-year-old dad, and he regularly attends church.

“Vitali is also one of the most dangerous combatant leaders on the planet. But who would know? A member of the South Carolina Black Belt Hall of Fame and a veteran commander of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vitali was on the ground in Afghanistan for several months in 2006 as the ranking U.S. military advisor, and he had been there for less than a week when he was faced with a citywide uprising in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan with a population at the time of more than 3 million people.

“War waits for no one,” said Vitali. “Four days after my arrival and assumption of the 201st Regional Command Advisory Group in Afghanistan, a U.S. military convoy came down a steep street and lost control. Afghan locals were killed which resulted in angry mobs and riots exploding in the streets. There were shootings, burnings, and chaos everywhere; and the Afghan police were forcefully driven out of the capital.”

Retrieved November 10, 2020 from https://amgreatness.com/2020/11/09/come-and-fight-methe-legacy-and-tradition-of-the-marines/

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Transit Troubles

An ongoing saga; this article from Governing Magazine adds a good perspective to the mix.

An excerpt.

“It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has walloped public transit. Transit networks and ridership are heavily oriented around central business districts, which are presently ghost towns in most cities. White-collar office workers are overwhelmingly working from home. And with business travel, conventions and other events mostly cancelled, entertainment venues shuttered and restaurants closed or barely scraping by, the hospitality sector that employs so many service workers is moribund. Add to that public concern that transit itself may be a vector for spreading the virus, and ridership has been even further depressed.

“The net result has been to cut the legs out from under transit demand in many places. Commuter-rail systems have been particularly hard-hit: Chicago’s Metra carried just 7,000 passengers on March 31, a 97.6 percent decrease from the same day in 2019. But even at better-performing bus systems in smaller cities that predominantly serve riders who don’t own cars and are disproportionately among the essential workers who must show up at job sites, ridership has declined significantly. In Indianapolis in August, for example, it was down 43 percent year over year.

“This loss of riders is producing a financial crisis for many systems, one that calls for long-term rethinking of how transit is paid for and operated. Funding from the CARES Act, the federal coronavirus relief legislation passed in March, has helped cover budget gaps to date. But this is proving insufficient for larger transit systems like New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Most of the largest systems earn at least 30 percent of their revenue from fares, a figure that rises to nearly half for some systems. This is not the case for most smaller systems, where the farebox share of revenue can be less than 25 percent; those systems are simply not as exposed to loss of fare revenue. But as the government tax dollars that make up the bulk of their funding take a hit, financial challenges will come for them as well.

“While additional bridge funding to transit is warranted and should be rapidly approved by Congress, realistically transit ridership may take a long time to recover. Many companies are looking at permanently increasing the share of their employees working remotely. Although the jury is still out on how much of a permanent upshift in work-from-home there will be, it seems likely there will be some. After all, remote work had been trending up even prior to the pandemic; the share of people working at home had already grown to exceed the share commuting by public transit. And previous transit disruptions, such as those from lengthy strikes, have affected ridership for years. It took over a decade to recover ridership losses from the 1983 Philadelphia commuter-rail strike, for example.

“Given the financial hits to transit agencies and the national scope of the problem, it’s not surprising that many are looking to Washington for help. If the Democrats sweep in November, winning the presidency and control of both houses of Congress, there’s a good possibility they will establish a new ongoing regime of increased federal operating subsidies for transit. Even with some sort of party split in Washington, there will be pressure to continue giving money to these agencies. But this is unlikely to provide them full relief.

“The risk to cities is that they will be forced into service cuts that will be difficult to restore. New York City has already ended overnight service on its subways, and it’s unclear whether that will ever be resumed. Declines in service make transit a less attractive choice, which drives more ridership away.

“Cities are going to have to find a way to reboot and rebuild their transit systems post-coronavirus. This was needed anyway as ridership, especially on bus systems, had already started declining pre-coronavirus, something The New York Times dubbed “the mystery of the missing bus riders.”

“One thing transit systems should do is start learning from and implementing global best practices. As transit analyst Alon Levy has repeatedly noted, U.S. transit agencies are largely unaware of how other countries plan, build and operate their transit systems. Many of those countries are far ahead of the U.S. in ridership, quality of service and cost control. It’s time to leave the idea of American exceptionalism behind and start learning from what works not just here, but around the world. This is not a short-term answer but rather a longer-term plan to work toward.

“Cities should also be open to questioning fundamental aspects of how they operate and fund their transit systems. One proposal that should be considered is eliminating fares completely in most cities. Fares are a legacy of the era when transit was run by private, for-profit operators. Few other public services are funded this way. Most transit systems just don’t earn that much from fares to begin with, and collecting fares itself imposes financial and operational costs — slowing down buses as people put change in the slot, for example.”

Retrieved November 9, 2020 from https://www.governing.com/community/The-Need-to-Reboot-and-Rebuild-Public-Transit.html

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The Long Goodbye from The City

A tragic story from City Journal; though still just a proposal at this stage, actual implementation would be bad news for the once most lovely city in our country.

An excerpt.

“San Francisco’s hotels and motels are slowly emptying of the homeless people that the city placed there during the Covid-19 pandemic. The city simply can’t afford the $260 per night, per person, price tag of housing approximately 2,000 people—just a portion of the estimated 8,000 people who live on the street. Where will they go? Elected officials have come up with a new plan: turn the whole city into a network of homeless encampments.

“In June, city officials and departments developed a list of 42 potential sites that could be equipped with spaces for tents and mobile bathrooms. The urban campers, most with addiction and mental health issues, would be provided with free delivered meals and other services. Several sites were erected, including one outside City Hall and one in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Among the other proposed locations: 25 public elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as a Boys and Girls Club, city parks, and recreation areas.

“Could San Francisco really turn school grounds and other public spaces into dozens of city-sanctioned homeless encampments? The prospect sounds inconceivable, but the ball began rolling last week, when Supervisor Rafael Mandelman introduced “A Place For All,” legislation that would establish Safe Sleeping Sites around the city. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Services (HSH) would create the sites and figure out the funding. Although touted as a temporary measure, they would remain for two years, then reevaluated annually. The long “temporary” timeframe can be explained by the failure of a site that had already been attempted at Everett Middle School. The intended occupants wanted a more permanent place to stay, so passed on the offer.

“The idea is that every person without a home will at least have a tent. The project is superficially humanitarian. Certainly, when people are protected from the elements, they are safer and more comfortable—at least, until winter comes. No one would be turned away, whether the person has lived in San Francisco for years or arrived hours earlier. The city would thus have to accommodate not just the people currently living on the city streets but also the newcomers arriving daily. Nor would anyone be required to stay or remain in the city-run sites, so it wouldn’t prevent individual encampments from forming elsewhere.

“Each site would house up to 150 people—so if 5,000 were to be routed to tents, the city would need to build at least 33 sites across San Francisco’s small footprint. “Mandelman’s legislation, conveniently, doesn’t specify where they would be. When asked directly if schools would be part of the plan, he dodged, insisting that HSH will be responsible for determining most of the suitable locations.

“The proposal to transform what remains of San Francisco into a mass of sanctioned homeless camps has supporters. Mark Nagal, cofounder of RescueSF, a citywide coalition, supports the city’s efforts to build permanent housing and doesn’t believe that people experiencing homelessness should have to wait on the streets. “There has to be something in the middle,” says Nagal. “Where the sites will be located is very important. We strongly believe residents should be involved in that. There hasn’t been enough dialogue with the residents.”

“Such conversations either don’t happen or ignore residents’ concerns. For example, a site in the Haight, at 730 Stanyan Street, was proposed in May 2020. Supervisor Dean Preston swiftly approved it, assuring residents that it would be temporary. Today, 40 “transitional youth” (up to age 29) live inside the site of a former McDonald’s, while older people spill out in tents along the perimeter. Fighting, screaming, violent crime, drug sales, and drug use are ever-present. Tax revenue is dropping as businesses in the commercial corridor close, while renters and homeowners pack up and leave.”

Retrieved October 31, 2020 from https://www.city-journal.org/san-francisco-proposal-homeless-camps

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California Struggles with Homelessness

A look at the situation in Los Angeles, from the California Globe, which is similar to that of Sacramento.

In our area, a strategy helping the homeless (and local residents and business who suffer the impacts) needs to be developed that is capable of safely sheltering up to 3 to 4 thousand homeless folks a night safely distant from residential neighborhoods and business—with available transformational services—and San Antonio’s Haven for Hope program, especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers, seems to offer an answer; which you can read about from their brochure at http://www.havenforhope.org/downloads/docs/H4H%20Brochure%2010-31-2016.pdf   and you can read more about Haven for Hope applicability in our area from our news release of October 26, 2018 on our News Pageat http://arpps.org/news.html

An excerpt from the California Globe article.

“On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council delayed a vote on a change to the city code allowing for the removal of homeless camps in the city if shelter had been offered first.

“Los Angeles has seen an explosion in homeless growth ever since the Great Recession in the late 2000’s due to a combination of many factors, including, most prominently, rising housing costs and the lack of affordable housing in the city. While Los Angeles has had laws regulating sleeping on sidewalks since 1968, the problem has led to an all-time high of homeless sleeping on sidewalks in the city since a 2018 Appeals Court ruling that barred cities from citing people that did so.

“However, with a recent ruling by a district court charging Los Angeles with failing to address the homeless crisis and needing to find shelter for homeless living near freeways, the city has found itself with more options, including the removal of homeless camps and tents within the city.

“The anti-camping ordinance proposal, written by City Attorney Mike Feuer, is based both on the need and now legal obligation to house more homeless who live under or near freeways, as well as to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in allowing  those with disabilities or in wheelchairs enough room to navigate a sidewalk.

“The proposal would also stop the homeless from resting long-term near schools, day care centers, parks, and other places where children may be. Tents are also barred near homeless shelters themselves.

“The most controversial amendment of the ordinance would allow law enforcement to remove any homeless camp as long as shelter was offered first.

“Pressure from the public both for and against the ordinance came to a head during the City Council meeting on Wednesday. Many who favored wanting the homeless off the streets pointed out that there is not currently enough shelter space in the city to make the ordinance feasible.

“I fundamentally believe, as I’ve stated before, in a right to housing,” explained Mayor Eric Garcetti before the City Council meeting. “I’m optimistic that we could see a huge expansion of our housing programs and that, more than anything else really are the solution. Otherwise, you’re trying to clean up a mess that continues to get worse and worse.

“I do believe that not all public space can just be a place where all people can camp but it’s inhumane to move people along without having shelter available for them.”

“Other Council Members echoed his concerns.”

Retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/los-angeles-city-council-delays-homeless-camp-removal-ordinance-vote/

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