The Coastal Post - July, 1997

PR July 97

MUTA Opposes Gasoline Tax

The Marin United Taxpayers Association board of directors voted unanimously to oppose any proposed gasoline tax increase that would be authorized by AB 595 (Brown). AB 595 has already passed the Assembly by 41 to 30. It would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to submit a measure to voters of the nine Bay Area counties to enact gasoline tax increases of up to ten cents a gallon.

"We already pay a federal tax of 18 cents a gallon, a state tax of 18 cents a gallon, plus a sales tax of 7.25 percents (10 cents of the total cost of a $1.50 gallon), and that last one is a tax on the other two taxes!" said MUTA secretary Fielding Greaves.

"What we pay in taxes on a gallon of gasoline already amounts to 46 cents of that $1.50 cost of the gas. Taken together those taxes amount to a punitive combined gas tax of over 30 percent-almost one-third of the total cost of a gallon of gas is just tax-correction-is unjust tax. We're already paying far too much on each gallon of gas. More gas tax we don't need."

Bills Thwarting The People's Will

Marin Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni's proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 5, was described Wednesday by a Marin United Taxpayers Association spokesman as "anti-voter and anti-taxpayer." The MUTA board voted unanimously to oppose it.

ACA 5 would change the Prop. 13 and Prop. 218 provisions requiring a two-thirds vote for passage of measures relating to school bond issues. It would also redefine school bond measures as not being "special" taxes, thus exempting them from the two-thirds requirement. Two other measures, ACA 7 (Escutia) and SCA 12 (O'Connell) have similar provisions. The MUTA board voted to oppose all three.

"These are...blatant attempts by elected officials to ignore the will of the voters, to circumvent Prop. 218 and shaft the taxpayers," said a MUTA director.

"Elected officials are spending our tax money to find ways to get around our commands. The League of California Cities, the Association of Mayors and Council Members, the City Managers Association-they're all conducting meetings, spending our money to work against us, as they conspire to frustrate the will of the people who put them in office, the people who pay their salaries." 'We the People' are being betrayed by our public servants," commented another.

Fielding Greaves noted that another "evil" Mazzoni bill is AB 1362, which would forgive municipalities from having to pay back to taxpayers the taxes they collected illegally in violation of Proposition 62.

"Those municipalities ignored warnings that Prop. 62's constitutionality status was uncertain and that they might have to return any new or increased taxes imposed after its passage," said Greaves. "But they went ahead and taxed anyway, and the courts ruled 62 unconstitutional, so now they have to pay for their folly and return those taxes they 'stole' illegally from the taxpayers.

"We don't let bank robbers keep the money they steal. Why should we excuse our big-spending tax thieves from returning the taxes they took from us illegally?" asked Greaves.

Environmental Training Program

The Environmental Forum of Marin is now accepting applications for the 25th Annual Forum Training Program.

The program will begin in September and continue weekly through February. Participants will study a wide range of topics including wildlife, wetlands, energy, toxics, transportation, agriculture, business and land use through both classroom and field study.

The Forum is dedicated to improving the quality of the environment by increasing understanding of ecology, and provides training for community members so they may be better informed and involved in the decisions that affect their community.

For more information, call Karol Raymer or Louis Nuyens at 479-7813.

Hospice Fundraiser

The Friends of Hospice North are selling hand-painted porcelain pins to benefit Hospice of Marin. The non-profit agency provides a wide range of services to the terminally ill and their families.

The pins come in a variety of designs, each with a unique message. The pins can be purchased for $10 at Hospice headquarters, 150 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, or at the Hodgepodge Shop, 1557 Fourth Street, San Rafael.

For more information, call 415-927-2273.

Pt. Reyes Guide

Wilderness Press is pleased to announce the publication of the updated third edition of Point Reyes. Out of print for several years, this popular guide is back with updated information and expanded park boundaries. Also new is a foreword by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, who says, "I don't believe in magic, but I do believe in Point Reyes."

Point Reyes is a guidebook for hikers, backpackers, bicyclists, equestrians, picnickers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and offers outdoor explorers countless opportunities from short easy strolls to strenuous all-day hikes. If you want to stay even longer, there are four backpacking camps. Whitnah describes every public trail there, how to get there, available facilities, regulations, and what you will see along the way. In addition, the area's background, geology, topography, climate, birds and animals, and history are covered.

Point Reyes is one of the best places to watch whales during their yearly migration along the California Coast. It is also a living laboratory where visitors can see ecosystem regeneration in progress since the 1995 fires. There is an incredible variety of wildlife, both native and imported, including deer from Europe and Asia, tule elk resettled from southern California, and elephant seals, once almost extinct, have recolonized some of the beaches.

Dorothy Whitnah is also the author of the Outdoor Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area. Point Reyes is available from Wilderness Press for $11.95 by calling 1-800-443-7227.

Host Families Needed

Unable to take that dream vacation to exotic lands? Well, let the Youth Exchange Service (YES) bring the culture to you. By hosting a teenage student (15-18) from another country, you can gain a cultural experience in the comfort of your own home. These students will be arriving in August and will stay for the 1997-98 school year.

They have passed an English proficiency exam and are high achievers in their own countries. YES arranges for medical insurance, enrollment at a local high school and corresponds with the students on a monthly basis, and has local representatives who keep in touch with the students and host families. The students bring their own spending money.

If you are interested, contact Youth Exchange Service, 4675 MacArthur Ct., Suite 830, Newport Beach, CA 92660, or phone 1-800-848-2121 Or 1-714-955-2030.

Career Counseling

Low-cost career counseling is now being offered at the YWCA Marin Center in San Anselmo by Linda Warren, a private Marin career counselor. Members of YWCA Marin Center receive a reduced rate.

Call the Y at 456-0782, or Linda Warren at 389-0409.

Hamilton Field

Those interested in challenging the government to save the Hamilton emergency runway are urged to write POB 627, Corte Madera 94925-0627.

Pot Permit For Fairfax

The Town of Fairfax Planning Commission, after much deliberation, voted 4-1 to issue Lynnette Shaw and the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana a use permit to legally continue the medicinal marijuana emergency relief access program that has been in place since last summer. A business permit was provisionally issued on April 28.

Fairfax Police Chief Jim Anderson said he has no reservations about moving ahead. "We've said that we want this. Now that it's here staring us in the face, I think we're obligated to take it on," Anderson said. The Chief also set forth a long list of conditions for the organization to comply with, including exact location of growing sites and transportation courier identification.

The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana has been helping patients in Marin County for the past five years, with quiet approval from Dr. Tom Peters, director of County Health and Human Services. Lynnette Shaw, founder and director of the Marin Alliance, has served on the Marin County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, the AIDS Commission, and the Marin Health Council.

"I had the unique experience of working two years with Chief Anderson on the county Drug and Alcohol Board, and it was natural to continue to work together. This process has been intense, and now I'm overwhelmed with joy and relief. All that hard work has given us a permit to work even more, so we are ready to take on all conditions, permits, and regulations. The patients cried out, the voters have spoken, and now Fairfax has taken a big step to break down barriers in the name of love and compassion. What a true blessing we have," said Shaw.

The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana has over 380 registered members, and considers the Cannabis Buyers' Club of Marin only a part of their patient services. Legal defense is still necessary, and all members are qualified for gratis attorneys in case of arrest.

There is a benefit concert featuring Vinyl, the Cole Tate Band, Jah Purple, and several other acts, set for Saturday, July 12 at the Fairfax Pavilion, to raise money for the Marin Alliance Legal Defense Fund.

"There are still patient cases in court; in fact, this July we are set to go to trial in Marin Superior Court and defend Dr. Alan Ager, who is a patient and a physician arrested last September for some medical marijuana plants. He is currently on our Board of Directors, and we intend to save him from jail. Now that we have our permit, hopefully cases like Dr. Ager's will never happen again, because medicinal marijuana growers can be clearly defined to the authorities," stated Shaw.

Dissenters Harrassed

The San Francisco police rounded up the homeless and sex workers in the Tenderloin, Golden Gate Park, and other areas of San Francisco during the week of the National Conference of Mayors. The sweeps were praised by local business leaders at the June 18 Police Commission meeting.

Several San Francisco activists including Laboria Schmoore and Keith McHenry have been the target of a campaign of police intimidation because of their human rights work. Laboria and her family have been harassed at their home in Double Rock because of her outspoken protests against police brutality. Her son has been framed for possession of marijuana. Police broke down both of her doors and held her at gunpoint. Laboria has painted a number of pictures about the brutality of the police, including a giant oil painting of 12 officers killing Aaron Williams.

On Saturday, June 21, life-long pacifist Keith McHenry was violently arrested by the police when he attempted to deliver food to the Beggars Banquet protest outside the National Conference of Mayor's feast at the Fairmont Hotel. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and failure to obey a peace (sic) officer, apparently in an effort to silence his outspoken criticism of government policies against the poor. This appears to be the beginning of another round of trumped-up felony charges similar to those alleged against him in 1994. An Asian-American observer commented that McHenry's arrest reminded him of the recent political repression in China.

In 1994, Keith was falsely accused of several similar felonies. Had he been convicted, he would have received a sentence of 25 years to life because of the then-newly-enacted Three Strikes law. Because of this history, this incident will be reported to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, which has an on-going investigation into human rights abuses against Keith, Food Not Bombs, and in general, poor people in San Francisco. In addition, this incident will be reported to Amnesty International in London, which also has a file documenting these abuses.

Every time Keith has been at a protest since Mayor Willie Brown has been in office, he has been harassed and has had his vehicle illegally ticketed and towed. It is obvious that these are blatant attempts to thwart and silence political dissent. If this happened to political activists in China, it would be world news.

Balanced Budget Provisions Short-Change Women And Children

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) asserted her continued support for the balanced budget agreement, but condemned three provisions of the Republican spending bill as being anti-women and children, and in violation of the recent balanced budget agreement:

Child Health Coverage. Balanced budget agreement negotiators agreed that $16 billion would be allotted over five years to pay for health coverage of five million children. The reconciliation bill disburses it in block grants to the governors, who would allow the funds to be used for programs other than basic health coverage for children. Only about half a million kids will receive coverage under this plan.

The Hyde Amendment. The majority is using the "must pass" reconciliation bill to codify into law the Hyde Amendment which prohibits federal funding for abortions. "In effect, the Hyde Amendment takes away the reproductive rights of the poor. Roe vs. Wade doesn't exist when you can't pay the bill," Woolsey said.

Workfare workers as a new underclass of employees. Most workers in welfare-to-work programs are poor women with families. The bill would categorize these women as not being "employees." "This new underclass of 'non-employees' are not entitled to legal protections against sexual harassment, discrimination, unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices.

"These provisions have nothing to do with the budget agreement that I support, but they have a lot to do with a narrow, mean-spirited political agenda that once again sees women and children as easy targets," she said.

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