Monday, 27 June 2022

Opinion

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Winter is a time for slowing down. Like the seed underground, we also need time for storing up and conserving energy.

We have moved from the fall, of leaves falling and the season of release and letting go, to receiving the time of winter, the most Yin time of year, a time of rest, stillness, and replenishment of our deepest resources.

It is the time for the roots to grow deeper underground, to support growth for the coming spring.

In Chinese Medicine the Winter Season is the phase of the Water Element.

Water is about our ability to flow and to overcome obstacles. To understand the attributes of water in ourselves think of the many ways water presents itself in nature. Our water energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, a gentle rain.

Water is a transformative substance. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and ‘be’ in our Water energy, we allow a transformative process to occur.

The body/physical gift of Water Element is rest, solitude, to re-balance and replenish our reserves. When we have enough reserves, we have strength, drive and ambition to reach our fullest potential.

We can manage our physical energy in a balanced way, not overdoing or being fearful of taking risks and trying new things.

The mind/emotional gift of water is trust, faith, courage, and the renewal of our self-essence and blueprint for our lives. What if we are out of balance? We can feel fear, anxiety, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, and tap into our creative, internal energy to manifest who we are. The Water Element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor ourselves in who we are.

Keys to staying balanced in the winter season

Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve your energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape. Take care of yourself, take a soothing bath or a hot foot soak. If you can, get a massage or an Acupuncture treatment to stay balanced.

Discover more about yourself through reflection, being more aware of your senses, paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, and Bengal Spice. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard this time of year, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they will deplete your immune system.

Drink plenty of good quality water.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to not let the cold wind enter your body, as this is what can cause colds and flus. Cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys and your reserves of energy.

We are especially reminded during this COVID-19 pandemic to practice preventative health measures to maintain our strength and resilience, and to keep our immune system strong.

This is the wisdom of water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, staying rooted to one’s essence.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in spring with restored, vibrant energy, a clear vision and a more rooted sense of purpose in our life.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for 29 years. She can be reached for more information on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 707-277-0891.

Ruth Ziemer, Brenda Hooper’s mother, died this summer in New York state of COVID-19. Courtesy photo.

My mother and I had 70 years together.

She taught me how to have faith, how to laugh and smile, how to work through sadness. She showed me what prejudice looks like, the importance of always telling the truth.

My mother taught me how to love. I have so many wonderful memories of her, but my favorite goes back to when I was in third grade.

My elementary school always had a Halloween party, but that year I didn’t want to go, until, of course, the very last minute. My mother lovingly came to the rescue and suggested possible costumes. No, I didn’t want to be Casper the ghost and no I didn’t want to be a witch.

After much back and forth, my mother looked in the closet and pulled out a box. She put me into that box with only my head and legs outside of it. Then she gift-wrapped the box and put on a tag, “To: Mr. Towne,” the school principal.

She loaded me into the backseat of the car (lying down) and off we went to the school. After pulling me out of the car, we went in. When the third graders paraded across the stage, I found to my joy and dismay that I won. Needless to say, it was somewhat difficult to choose my prize from the huge bag of possibilities when my hands were stuck inside the box. That was my mom, always there for me.

But, I wasn’t there for my mother when she died of COVID-19. I couldn’t be as she was in a hospital in Syracuse, New York. I had to say goodbye to her via FaceTime. I had to attend her funeral via FaceTime.

No last kiss, no hug, no holding her hand. Just the lingering picture in my mind as the nurses removed her oxygen tube because there was nothing else to be done. I couldn’t be there for my stepfather either.

I have the photo above of my mother and a handblown glass heart with some of her ashes on the table next to my favorite reading chair. Sometimes I can barely look at it, my heart is so broken.

It continues to amaze me at the outpouring of sympathy and love I get, often from people I barely know. But at other times, I feel like I’m taking some kind of test to see how quickly I can get over this and I’m failing miserably. This is not about me or my mother, I know that millions of others have and will continue to go through this devastating process.

I’m increasingly concerned about Lake County’s lack of transparency regarding COVID-19. We originally got somewhat regular updates on the number of cases in Lake County; however, we now get very sporadic updates.

Counties across the United States are providing their residents with daily updates. It looks more and more like Lake County is trying to hide something by not keeping us informed.

All the experts are warning us that cases are going to be increasing with the onset of fall and winter. We are already at the point where cases in the United States are at the highest point since this pandemic began.

I am urging and requesting that the Board of Supervisors make this a priority so that we can stay informed and protect ourselves from this. I sent my supervisor, Rob Brown, a note about this, but predictably never received a response.

I will forever blame Trump for her death – his utter lack of any semblance of empathy and his complete ignorance. I see some of the very same issues in Lake County’s response to the pandemic.

There is no miracle and it is not going to just disappear anytime soon; however, it should be dealt with head-on rather than avoiding it. Hiding the facts from the community does us all a disservice. We deserve honesty from those in charge.

My mother was not just another person over 65 in assisted living with co-morbidities, Dr. Pace. She has a name – Ruth Ziemer.

I lost my mother to COVID-19 this summer and I truly don’t want to go through that again by losing another loved one. No one deserves that.

Brenda Hooper lives in Kelseyville, California.

Prior to the Valley fire in 2015, I had made a conscious decision to not seek a fifth term on the Board of Supervisors.

That all changed on Sept. 12 of that year when our county was thrown into a disaster like it had never seen before, and hopefully, will never see again.

After consulting with family, friends and an excellent candidate that had planned to run to replace my seat, we agreed that I would seek reelection in order to maintain some consistency in the immediate and future recovery.

We all worked hard to do the best we could, having never gone through this kind of event, at every level.

Last year, I decided once more, that I would retire from the board at the end of my term. I knew of a few candidates that might be willing to step in with new energy and ideas and I was excited about that prospect.

By then many folks had been involved in the recovery effort of this and several other disasters and the pool was full of highly qualified and motivated people that could easily take the reins.

First I would like to thank Bill Kearney for jumping into the race for no other reason than his love of Lake County. Bill could have easily chosen to enjoy his new-found retirement but he chose to be a voice for a hardworking group that shares that love of Lake County. I am grateful for people like Bill and Dana Kearney.

Most importantly I wish to congratulate and offer my support to Jessica Pyska, our newly elected District 5 supervisor.

Jessica has shown a commitment to our community that makes me proud to know her and, know that Lake County is in the very capable hands of someone that will work hard for all of the right reasons.

For those of you that supported candidate Pyska, please don’t stop there. She will need your support more than ever in the upcoming months and years.

For those of you that possibly did not show support for Supervisor-elect Pyska, I ask you to please give her the chance that she deserves in doing the job that she is about to embark upon.

She has all of the qualifications needed to represent all of us, not the least of which is that she has a good heart and she wants nothing less than the best for Lake County.

Rob Brown is the retiring District 5 supervisor for the Lake County Board of Supervisors. He lives in Kelseyville, California.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – On Dec. 14, three new Kelseyville Unified School District Board members will be sworn in.

Please join me in welcoming Natalie Higley, Gilbert Rangel and Mary Beth Mosko. I will miss our previous board members, Taja Odom, Gary Olson and Beniakim Cromwell. Thanks to all of you for your service.

The role of a school board member is to help set the vision for the school district as well as providing financial oversight of taxpayer dollars.

The five core responsibilities of the Kelseyville Unified school board are to: 1.) Set overall direction; 2.) Ensure we have an effective and efficient structure; 3.) Provide support; 4.) Ensure accountability; and 5.) Advocate for children, the district and public schools when interacting with the public.

Because authority is granted to the board as a whole, not each member individually, board members fulfill these responsibilities by working together as a governance team with the superintendent to make decisions that will best serve all the students in the community.

Natalie Higley

Natalie Higley is a proud graduate of Kelseyville Unified schools, having graduated in 2011 from Kelseyville High School.

After graduation, she became civically involved both locally and statewide; she has served two terms as an Assembly District 4 delegate to the California Democratic Party representing Lake County. Natalie later became actively involved in the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, as well as multiple statewide organizations representing rural and progressive values.

She is currently employed as the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 551 and serves as a delegate to the North Bay Central Labor Council.

As a single mother, she believes she understands how challenging educational delivery can be for both school districts and parents during a pandemic.

Natalie hopes to bring both a compassionate and a science-based perspective to the Kelseyville Unified board and looks forward to working with her colleagues to move the district forward.

Gilbert Rangel

Gilbert Rangel has spent 20 years of his career in education, youth development and community service in both the nonprofit and government sectors. He brings a unique perspective, having been educated in both Mexico and the United States.

He attended elementary and middle school in Mexico, high school here in the US, and then studied business at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. He is bilingual and bicultural, and he feels his background provides him with meaningful insight into the importance of universal access to education and equal opportunity for students of all walks of life.

He currently serves as the director for the Lake County AmeriCorps program which focuses on empowering students in achieving a successful education. Other community service experience includes having served under the administrations of Gov. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Brown to develop AmeriCorps community programming across different California communities.

Mary Beth Mosko

As the mother of a freshman at Kelseyville High School, Mary Beth Mosko says she is motivated to work with board members, administrators, teachers and members of the community to provide children with a quality education. She believes excellent schools not only benefit students but the entire community.

She said, “Great schools provide Kelseyville with the skilled workforce, business leaders, and entrepreneurs necessary to thrive as a community.”

Having double-majored in psychology and sociology at Roanoke College, she appreciates the value of a quality education and she has put that appreciation to work, as evidenced by her volunteer work as a tutor for military veterans returning to school after deployment.

She says she hopes to engage and inspire our community to support our schools and provide an excellent education for all. Some areas of particular interest include seeking additional funding streams, promoting summer programs in math and reading, providing for disadvantaged students, and increasing parent engagement.

As a reminder, board meetings are public and everyone is invited. For more information, visit our website at www.kvusd.org and click on the District menu to find the Board of Education page.

Dave McQueen is the superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.



This has been a year of disruption. Eight months of restricted activities have all of us longing for normalcy. Giving up treasured holiday traditions has been particularly painful for many.

Despite our fatigue and frustration, we MUST keep the long view in mind this Thanksgiving. Increases in cases have regularly followed holidays that bring extended families and other cross-household groups together.

If that happens again, local healthcare resources will be strained, and Lake County probably will extend well into the Purple Tier of the state’s Blueprint to a Safer Economy and face greater business restrictions for a considerable period, perhaps months.

In-person gatherings across households are not recommended. If you do gather:

– Stay outside, and be vigilant with sanitation if people must go inside to use restrooms.
– No greater than three households.
– Keep it short – two hours or less.

Traveling out of the area, or having out-of-area family and friends come to visit you, is also not a good idea this year.

The State advises a 14-day self-quarantine on return for those traveling out of state, and any non-essential travel carries risk. If you must travel, precautions should be strongly emphasized:

– Masking while indoors;
– Staying away from others when ill;
– Social distancing;
– Proper disinfection.

This is not a normal year. Many people customarily travel to other parts of the state, or out of the country, to see family. Some people travel to other areas for work. We strongly encourage people to think twice before doing so.

Dr. Gary Pace, MD, MPH, is Public Health officer for Lake County, California.

This news analysis was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C.

“You will not replace us!”

The words chanted in 2017 by tiki torch-wielding white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, get right to the heart of what voter disenfranchisement tactics are all about in the 2020 election.

Non-Hispanic white people are a shrinking percentage of the U.S. population and won’t be a majority within a few decades. They’ve held on to grossly disproportionate political power and wealth through discriminatory tactics that go back hundreds of years. As that power is threatened in 2020 by demographic shifts and backlash to a deeply unpopular president, the effort to rule from the minority for a long time to come has become more desperate and more brazen.

Slow down the mail.

Speed up a Supreme Court appointment.

Shut down polling places in Black communities. Open up more in white ones.

Stop counting people of color in the 2020 Census so they have less representation in Congress and fewer federal dollars invested in their districts.

Just stop counting the actual ballots. (After all, that tactic has worked before.)

And prohibit government agencies and schools from talking about the parts of U.S. history that reveal the track record and rationale behind these tactics.

You will not replace us.

This is the context for “Barriers to the Ballot Box,” an investigation this year by the Center for Public Integrity and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline project into what is preventing people from exercising their rights to vote and equal representation.

We started with the Shelby County v. Holder decision, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2013 that stripped the federal Voting Rights Act of the “preclearance” requirement, which had required states with a history of racist disenfranchisement to get authorization from the federal government before implementing changes to voting laws or rules.

Politics is about turning “your people” out to vote, not necessarily all people, and there’s a long history in both major parties of suppression tactics aimed at staying in power. But in this moment, Republicans’ reliance on disenfranchisement of people of color and dog-whistle rhetoric appealing to white voters’ fears of the country’s shift in demographics is stark.

After Shelby, an immediate tactic employed in states no longer subject to preclearance was closure of polling places in predominantly Black and Latino communities. Texas and Georgia, both previously subject to federal preclearance, led the way.

Texas is ahead of the country as a whole in demographic changes. Non-Hispanic white people are already a minority there, accounting for about 40 percent of the population. But whites represent two-thirds of the state’s congressional delegation and state legislature.

The white Republican men who hold the state’s most powerful offices have used an array of tactics to prevent more people from voting this year.

Changing demographics have turned Georgia into a battleground state where disenfranchisement tactics narrowly prevented a Black woman, Stacey Abrams, from becoming governor two years ago. Republican Brian Kemp, who beat her in that race, was the architect of those tactics as Georgia’s secretary of state. They included polling place closures, depriving election officials in Black communities of resources, and purging Black people from voting lists.

In her book “One Person, No Vote,” historian and Emory University Professor Carol Anderson pierces the narrative that emerged around Donald Trump’s election in 2016. Black voters didn’t decide to stay home in key battleground states simply because Hillary Clinton’s campaign failed to enthuse them.

“Republican legislatures and governors systematically blocked African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans from the polls,” Anderson wrote. “Pushed by both the impending demographic collapse of the Republican Party, whose overwhelmingly white constituency is becoming an ever smaller share of the electorate, and the GOP’s extremist inability to craft policies that speak to an increasingly diverse nation, the Republicans opted to disenfranchise rather than reform.”

In 2008, Barack Obama won Indiana, a bastion of Republican control, on the strength of turnout by people of color in Indianapolis. In response, the state closed early voting centers there and opened more in predominantly white communities.

Twenty states adopted new restrictions on the right to vote following the election of our first Black president. And free from the preclearance check of the Voting Rights Act, states began closing polling places in predominantly Black and Latino communities.

Public Integrity and Stateline journalists spent a year and filed more than 1,200 public records requests compiling nationwide data on polling place locations in 2012, pre-Shelby, through 2020 so local journalists, researchers and academics can track the impact of closures.

We used historic voter files in states such as Louisiana and South Carolina to determine the average extra distance that Black voters have to travel to vote and where voters are subjected to long lines and wait times.

Beyond polling place closures, 2020 voter suppression tactics are modern-day cousins of the white supremacist measures taken to keep Black people from voting in the Jim Crow era.

Then, poll taxes were used to keep Black and low-income people from having a say in elections.

Today, Republican officials in Florida are requiring people convicted of a felony to pay all associated court fines and fees before their voting rights will be restored. Like so many Jim Crow tactics, it was a back door cancellation of rights that had been extended to predominantly people of color — in this case, by the people of Florida through a statewide referendum.

Then, literacy tests were used to keep Black people from voting. The real point was to build so much subjectivity into the standards by which passing the test was judged that local election officials could prevent whomever they wanted from voting.

Today, overly complicated requirements for casting absentee ballots build that subjectivity into the process. Your vote might not count because a local official decides that your signature doesn’t match, or you forgot to place your ballot inside an additional security envelope when you sent it in. Some states are allowing voters the chance to correct errors if there’s time before Election Day, while others (again, Texas) have ruled that local officials have no obligation to even notify voters that their ballot was rejected.

Then, segregationists used a McCarthyist fear of communism around every corner to fight organizers registering Black people to vote. Today, almost every measure that disenfranchises Black, Latino and Native American citizens is based on a false narrative that voter fraud is a widespread problem or threat.

“These claims of widespread fraud are nothing more than old wine in new bottles,” Max Feldman wrote for the Brennan Center in May. “President Trump and his allies have long claimed, without evidence, that different aspects of our elections are infected with voter fraud. Before mail voting, they pushed similar false narratives about noncitizen voting, voter impersonation, and double voting in order to enact laws that reduce turnout and discredit adverse election results.”

Some tactics that date back to the era before the Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965 haven’t changed at all.

Taking voting rights away from people convicted of felonies started as a way to specifically target Black men, paired with efforts to aggressively arrest them. Today, some form of felony disenfranchisement is the law in every state except Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., and as of 2016 it prevented more than 6 million adults from voting. That’s up from about 1 million in 1976 and a little over 3 million in 1996. Black people are affected at a rate more than four times greater than white people.

In the 1960s, civil rights activists with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee faced jail time for registering Black people to vote, and all kinds of intimidation and violence. In 2020, it’s illegal in Arizona and some other states to help people cast absentee ballots. In Tennessee, you can be convicted of a felony and lose your right to vote by protesting for voting rights. And across the country, local election officials are worried that protesters and aggressive “poll watchers,” egged on by Trump, will show up at the polls on Election Day and intimidate voters.

It wasn’t until 2006, starting in Indiana, that the requirement that citizens present government-issued photo identification at the polls before they’re allowed to vote became a popular disenfranchisement tactic, pushed in copycat legislation across numerous states largely controlled by Republican legislatures.

The stated rationale for such laws is the threat of voters being impersonated by people looking to commit election fraud — an all-but-nonexistent problem. A 2014 analysis by Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles found 31 cases of that happening in the entire country since 2000, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.

New tactics in the Trump era include voter suppression via misinformation, intimidation and psychological warfare, micro-targeted via Facebook and YouTube.

Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, with the help of Facebook’s algorithms and demographic targeting capabilities, Russia strategically stoked “racial discord” in the U.S. to help elect Trump.

The goal in targeting Black voters was not to convince them to support Trump — a hopeless cause, in many cases — but to discourage them from voting at all. A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that no category of voters was targeted more by the Russian effort in 2016 than Black Americans.

Trump’s own campaign, according to a report by the UK’s Channel 4 and the Miami Herald, profiled Black voters with a label of “deterrence” and targeted them with online advertising aimed at destroying their faith in and motivation for voting altogether.

The story of disenfranchisement in 2020 is also one of deliberate inaction in the face of extenuating circumstances.

In March, when in-person voting seemed risky due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump said that he was against federal funding to expand voting by mail. Why? Because, he said, it would increase overall turnout to the point where “no Republican would ever be elected again.”

Republican officials at the federal and state level have rejected requests for funding that would help local officials overcome a shortage of poll workers, expand polling places to accommodate proper social distancing and purchase personal protective equipment. Movie star and former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others have stepped up to fund these things in some communities at greatest risk for disenfranchisement, but even that has been opposed by some state officials.

Another theme of our Barriers to the Ballot Box project is that disenfranchisement still takes place in all 50 states. It’s not just a Deep South problem or a uniquely Republican tactic.

In New York City, long lines at early voting centers led Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to criticize the way the election has been administered in an area that had been subject to preclearance rules. Ocasio-Cortez overcame a powerful party machine to win election two years ago.

Republicans in New Hampshire tried to effectively stop college students not originally from New Hampshire from voting. In Rhode Island, a state dominated by Democrats, one of the strictest photo ID laws in the country requires that a driver’s license not be more than six months out of date, a rule that has not been waived even though the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has mostly been shut down since March because of the pandemic.

In Connecticut, also dominated by Democrats, a ban on early voting and other restrictions that disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters are written into the state constitution. It’s hard not to wonder how equal access to the electoral process would have shaped policy in a state whose housing and schools are deeply segregated and that has one of the largest wealth gaps in the country.

As states have grappled with these issues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump campaign and Republicans across the country have engaged in a coordinated legal effort to oppose expansion of vote by mail in particular.

And as with the Jim Crow era, backflips in legal philosophy are possible when the goal is white supremacy. If a Republican state has placed new restrictions on voting, or is refusing to make accommodations due to COVID-19, the claim is states’ rights, with wide leeway for local control. But four Supreme Court justices wanted to block Pennsylvania from making decisions about how its election would run this fall.

That’s why it ultimately matters not what the Constitution says (a Constitution that doesn’t explicitly guarantee a right to vote) if there’s a majority on the Supreme Court willing to twist its interpretation or rule from an alternative set of facts. Nor do rules and norms matter if there is a president and Senate willing to break or change them, and a judiciary they’ve appointed coming up with the legal justification.

How will this play out in the 2020 election?

If early turnout is an indication, especially in states that have actively tried to make it more difficult to vote, disenfranchisement may have prompted a backlash, even in the face of long lines and a global pandemic.

Whether it will be enough to upend this power dynamic, and what can be accomplished in the face of a Supreme Court poised to further erode the Voting Rights Act, is a question central to confronting inequality in America.

Matt DeRienzo is editor-in-chief of the Center for Public Integrity.

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