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Breaking News: Napa Earthquake; Lodge Lightning Complex Fire

Sunday morning earthquake (Updated at 7:20am Tuesday August 26): According to the USGS, an earthquake and several aftershocks were recorded this morning. The original quake at 3:20am Sunday morning was measured at 6.0 and was centered near American Canyon. Three aftershocks were recorded near Napa: at 5:01am (2.5), at 5:47am (3.6), and 7:22am (2.5); two more near American Canyon at 7:54am (2.8), and 10:38am (2.6).

KQED reports the following information:
A 6.0-magnitude earthquake epicentered at the southern edge of Napa struck at Sunday morning at 3:20 a.m.
• The quake is the strongest to strike the Bay Area since the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake of Oct. 17, 1989.
• Napa’s Queen of the Valley Hospital reports treating 208 people between the time the earthquake struck at 3:20 a.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday. The hospital says a total of 17 people were admitted, most in fair to serious condition. One person remains in critical condition. Vallejo is reporting 25 minor injuries.
• The city of Napa has reported 33 buildings have been deemed unsafe. Officials in Vallejo have closed a two-block stretch of one of the city’s principal streets because of concerns that a church bell tower could collapse, and Napa’s school district announced that schools will remain closed Tuesday and possibly beyond. KQED’s Craig Miller reports that Vallejo’s First Baptist Church, at the corner of Carolina Street and Sonoma Boulevard, has been red-tagged. Among the church’s structural concerns: that the bell tower has been weakened to the point where it might collapse. This fear has prompted officials to close Sonoma Boulevard, which is also Highway 29, for two blocks on either side of the church. The closure also affects Lincoln Elementary School, immediately across the street from First Baptist.
• Napa officials updated the number of buildings red-tagged there to 64. Among the buildings shut down is the city’s historic courthouse building, and county officials announced today that the building will be closed indefinitely as it undergoes structural analysis. Several other major public buildings, including the Napa County Administration Building, were closed Monday.
• The Napa Valley Unified School District announced schools across the city will remain closed Tuesday as staff cleans up after the quake. The district will make a decision Tuesday about whether the closure will be extended.
• The Napa Fire Department reported Monday it responded to 50 fires after the quake, including one in a mobile home park that destroyed four units and damaged several others. Fire officials said an initial lack of water due to water-main breaks led to some of the destruction.
• Napa’s water system is undergoing repairs after suffering 60 water-main breaks. Officials say that some residents will lose water service during repairs and are advising affected residents to use boiled or bottled water until further notice.

Additional detailed information can be found at KQED's website: KQED reports.

Lodge Fire: The fire status has not been updated by Cal Fire since Wednesday evening. It appears that there will be no additional updates until/unless there is a significant change in the status. KZYX will monitor Cal Fire and other fire, police, and safety sources and advise if needed. At last report the fire had consumed 12,535 acres and was 96% contained.

Looting Our Public Pensions -- On KZYX, Friday, Oct 4 @ 9 am

Posted by All About the Money
All About the Money
All About the Money airs from 9 am to 10 pm on alternate Fridays and is hosted by John Sakowicz.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 03 October 2013 in Uncategorized

With the looming bankruptcy of Detroit's pension system in the news, "All About Money" returns to KZYX on Friday, October 4, at 9 am, Pacific Time, with a special edition show on the crisis in public pensions. Our first guest is Isiah J. Poole, editor of OurFuture.org. Our second guest is Lynn Parramore, senior editor at AlterNet.

 KZYX broadcasts can be heard live at 88.1, 90.7, and 91.5 FM in the Counties of Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma in northern California.

 We also stream live from the web at www.kzyx.org.

 Listener call-in number is: (707) 895-2448. Questions can also be emailed before the show to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Isaiah J. Poole has been the editor of OurFuture.org since 2007 and also directs the Campaign for America's Future's online communications. Before joining the Campaign for America's Future he had worked for more than 25 years in various mainstream media outlets, mostly in Washington covering local and national politics. His work has put him at the front lines of ideological battles between progressives and conservatives. He also served as a founding member of the Washington Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. 

Dr. Lynn Parramore, an author, cultural theorist, producer, and media consultant, is founding editor of New Deal 2.0, a signature project of the Roosevelt Institute. She is also co-founder Recessionwire.com, which highlights news, cultural analysis, and entertainment around the economic downturn, and founding editor of IgoUgo.com, the largest database of first-hand travel reviews on the Web. Her work has appeared in the LA Times, Newsweek, the Miami Herald, Forbes Traveler, the New York Daily News, Mother Jones, The Nation, the Huffington Post, and USA Today. She acted as media consultant to Harvey Gantt in his campaign for U.S. Senate, 1996.

Dr. Parramore’s first book of cultural history, Reading the Sphinx, was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a notable scholarly book for 2009. She holds a doctorate in English from New York University, where she received a teaching fellowship and taught essay writing and cultural theory.

 Dr. Parramore is currently an AlterNet senior editor.

 Isiah J. Poole's recent article on looting public pensions follows below:


REPORT EXPOSES THE RIGHT-WING TAG TEAM PLOTTING AGAINST PENSIONS

September 26, 2013

by Isaiah J. Poole 

News stories around the country have trumpeted a public pension “crisis” in various states, featuring elected officials who insist that these crises justify slashing the retirement benefits of public employees.

 What these stories usually don’t say is that conservative activists are manufacturing the perception of a public pension crisis in order to both slash modest retiree benefits and preserve expensive corporate subsidies and tax breaks.

 Leading this effort is the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Sector Retirement Systems Project and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Their role in ginning up the sense of crisis, and in pushing state legislatures to dismantle pension systems that have served workers well for decades and could serve them well for decades more, is exposed in an Institute for America’s Future report released today, “The Plot Against Pensions.”

 “This is the story not merely of two nonprofits, nor merely of one set of economic issues; it is a microcosmic tale of how, in the Citizens United age, politically motivated billionaires can quietly implement an ideological agenda in local communities across the country,” the report states.

 “Operating in state legislatures far away from the national media spotlight, these billionaires can launder their ideological agenda through seemingly nonpartisan foundations, with devastating legislative consequences for millions of taxpayers and families. And as the battle over America’s retirement proves, it isn’t just the infamous Koch Brothers at work anymore.”

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is run by conservative political operatives and consultants, and funded by John Arnold, an Enron billionaire. His only major experience with pension management was his role in a company whose collapse destroyed its own workers’ pensions and helped to damage the financial stability of public pension funds across America that held Enron stock.

 The Pew retirement project harkens back to Pew’s historical roots in conservative economic causes, which are often overlooked amid the apolitical and nonpartisan reports that the various Pew outlets produce.

 Together, they have been working in states across the country to focus the debate over pensions primarily on slashing retiree benefits rather than on raising public revenues. This campaign has played an integral role in states passing legislation that cuts guaranteed retirement income – all while those states preserve more expensive corporate subsidies.

 Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone chronicles what happened in Rhode Island when state treasurer Gina Raimondo rammed pension changes through the state modeled on the Pew-Arnold template. As Taibbi reports, a plan that was hailed as “the most comprehensive pension reform ever implemented” had the net effect of “handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds. … The funds now stood collectively to be paid tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers of her ostensibly flat-broke state.”

 Meanwhile, retired public employees now face smaller benefit checks, caps on cost-of-living increases and longer waits to collect their retirement benefits.

 During a media conference call about the report, Kentucky State Rep. Jim Wayne said that despite promises by Pew and Arnold that their policy changes would make the retirement funds solvent and protect benefits, “in fact, our judgement is that the opposite is true … the unfunded liabilities remain, and the independent actuaries predict that the plan will cost taxpayers an additional $55 million … And now, with this so-called reform, we risk future generations of workers n Kentucky being forced to live in poverty.”

Dean Baker, chief economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that Arnold and Pew are causing too many state legislators, and some of the general public, to forget that these pensions are “benefits that people worked for” and are contractually entitled to receive. Also, “public pensions are a model for secure retirement … It’s something that we ought to emulate, not something we should destroy,” he said.

The report acknowledges that states and cities have for years been failing to fully fund their annual pension obligations. They have used funds that were supposed to go to pensions to instead finance expensive tax cuts and corporate subsidies. That has helped create a real but manageable pension shortfall. Yet, instead of citing such a shortfall as reason to end expensive tax cuts and subsidies, conservative activists and lawmakers are citing it as a reason to slash retiree benefits.

In fact, the amount states and cities spend on corporate subsidies and so-called tax expenditures is far more than the pension shortfalls they face. According to Pew, public pensions face a 30-year shortfall of $1.38 trillion, or $46 billion on an annual basis. This is dwarfed by the $80 billion a year states and cities spend on corporate subsidies. Yet, conservative activists and lawmakers are citing the pension shortfalls and not the subsidies as the cause of budget squeezes. They are then claiming that cutting retiree benefits is the solution rather than simply rolling back the more expensive tax breaks and subsidies.

The pension “reforms” being pushed by conservative activists would slash retirement income for many pensioners who are not part of the Social Security system. Additionally, the specific reforms they are pushing – whether “cash balance” schemes or 401(k)-style defined contribution plans – are often more expensive and risky for taxpayers than existing pension plans.

The stakes go well beyond the effects of the Pew-Arnold campaign on state and municipal employees. The report warns: “The current campaign to slash public pension benefits has relied on many of the same public relations strategies as President Bush’s earlier campaign to privatize Social Security. In that sense, the campaign against public pensions is an exercise in perfecting methods that manufacture the perception of a crisis – and then result in cuts to guaranteed retirement income. If the state-based crusade against public pensions is successful, it will probably fuel a renewed effort to privatize Social Security.”

Ultimately, as “The Plot Against Pensions” demonstrates, the retirement security of millions of Americans is being jeopardized.

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All About the Money airs from 9 am to 10 pm on alternate Fridays and is hosted by John Sakowicz.

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