Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bonanza Column 170 – IB and the Community

Sometimes I don't understand our community at all – other times I think I get a glimmer or understanding, but mostly it's a mystery to me.

It seems like we are willing to fight about anything based solely on our opinions, the opinions don't need to be informed by any facts, and we don't feel very much need to listen to each other. Granted it's hard to listen when the communication is like this one: "Why don't you post constitution Progressives go find your own country and quit wrecking ours?"

Apparently I'm something called a post constitution (I assume this means post-Constitution rather than someone with the constitution of a post, but I'm not sure) Progressive. OK. I don't understand post-Constitution – we're all post-Constitution. That document was adopted in 1789, so anyone who was pre-Constitution would be 221 years old. Progressive? Why do people think I'll be insulted by being called something (along with Liberal, leftist, etc.) that I've said I'm proud to be. And what is the name-caller? Regressive?

Finally, why should I go find my own country, and who said this one was yours? I was born here, my parents immigrated here, and I honestly believe that this is my country as much as it is "yours." Actually, the Constitution kind of guarantees that, doesn't it?

Or the person who picked up on one small piece of personal disclosure in a column and decided that "because your Dad lost his business due to "change" you think workforce housing will solve the economic woes of main street???" which is nothing even related to what I said.

Case in point: the IB program. I have said repeatedly that, while I'm kind of naturally inclined to support it, I have serious questions and think a rational, fact-based dialogue is needed. Writers (mostly anonymous) online have attacked me for favoring IB (what part of "have serious questions" is not clear to you?). Just for fun, how about trying listening?

The Washoe County School District is on record favoring IB even though they won't fund it. In listening to both sides of the debate, a couple of things have become clear to me. First, very little of the debate is fact-based. Either or both sides may have facts to bolster their argument (note:" IT'S A U.N. PLOT!!! Is not a fact – it's an opinion, same for" IT WILL ATTRACT LOTS OF STUDENTS!!!"), neither brings them to bear in what dialogue there has been. Second, no one is listening to anyone who is not on their side. Third, a genuine dialogue, including people listening to each other, is desperately needed.

As I mentioned in a previous column and as was announced in the paper last week, the Bonanza has proposed to sponsor a forum for that dialogue. The ground rules of the forum will be that all presentations by panelists must be based on citable facts and that audience questions will be screened to ensure that they are requests for information, not arguments for a position. The original date for the forum, February 9th, is now in question due to conflicts we were unaware of, but if we can get the panelists, it will happen sooner rather than later.

I guess the question is what do both sides want? Do they want to defeat the other side or to inform the community? The way it looks now is that we are going to have IB in any case – the School District has approved it and the money has been raised or is close to being raised. So as a community, do we want this to be one more bone of contention dividing us or do we want to really look at what it could do and what it is that professional educators find so valuable in it?

Of course, we can all decide that we know better than the experts in any case and don't have to listen to them – after all, we pay them to educate our children – that means we're smarter than they are, right? After all, isn't the golden rule "he who has the gold, rules?"

Let's try to have an informative, civil dialogue. Whaddaya say?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Huffington Post Column 9 - The Presidency May Be Post-Racial, but is it Post-Political?

I came to President Obama's first State of the Union speech prepared to be disappointed. I mean really prepared -- I seriously considered skipping it. I expected politics as usual and a continuation of what has seemed to be the President's waffling on taking a strong political stand against the nonsense being put out on the right from the far right to the so-called moderates, and I felt that if that was what happened it would break my heart.

Nonetheless, I did watch, and what I saw seemed to me to be something different. The President seemed to take on all comers -- from the Republican obstructionists to the Supreme Court to his own faint-hearted party. The strong stands he took on jobs, the economy, health care reform, don't ask-don't tell, etc. pleased some and left others sitting on their hands, but, from my point of view, that's good. My biggest concern was that he would continue to try to please everybody or go so polar that he pissed off only one side.

When Obama made his unequivocal statement on eliminating don't ask-don't tell, the Joint Chiefs in the front row were, to a man, stone-faced. Good.

When he rebuked the Supreme Court for the incredibly bad Citizens United decision, Justice Alito did a modified Joe Wilson which escaped no one's notice. Good.

When he spoke of health care reform, the Republicans sat on their hands while their leadership, Boehner and Cantor, smirked and whispered, presumably something disparaging. Good.

And when he basically told the assembled houses of Congress to grow up and start thinking about the country rather than their parties' election chances, a lot of people didn't like it. Good.

From the beginning, I have wanted to believe that Obama knows what he's doing, that he has a strategy, and that he has been steering a clear -- if not transparent -- course in his first year. What I saw last night was confirmation of this. Obama is way past being the first Post-Racial President -- he wants to be the first Post-Political President of the modern era. Our greatest presidents -- Lincoln comes to mind -- have put the country's values and welfare ahead of politics. They have, in the best American tradition, done what was right, not what was politically expedient or personally preferable. They did not take us into wars trivially, but did not hesitate to fight when honor and principle demanded it. They did not pander to popular opinion but did the hard things, in JFK's words, "because they are hard." They did not attempt to prearrange how history would judge them, but did the right thing and let history worry about the judgment - FDR and the New Deal, Truman and the atomic bombing of Japan to end the war.

Arianna Huffington wrote that she thought the speech was focus-grouped within an inch of its life - that it was designed to have one applause line for every group; she calls it a "pander-palooza." With all due respect to she who allows me to be read, I disagree. Pandering would have been playing to the crowd both in the chamber and at home -- promising big, introducing in the audience people who were out of work, lacking health insurance, trying to pluck the strings of sympathy in the hearts of the larger audience. In his speech, Obama was a statesman rather than a politician -- to call out those who are acting in something other than the public interest and to demand action, partnership, and change.

Maybe I just don't want to give up the dream. Maybe I can't confront how disappointed I will be if, in the end, Obama turns out to be more like Carter than he is like FDR or Lincoln, but I don't think so. I think what I saw last night is the harbinger of a sea change in the Presidency and in how we are governed. At least I hope so.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bonanza Column 169 – If We Don’t Change Our Direction…

The report commissioned by the Washoe County Department of Community Development that was issued in December could not be more clear or more dire in its implications for Incline Village and Crystal Bay. The independent consulting firm that carried out the study lists ten findings in its report, the first of which is that "Housing is out of reach of most of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay workforce." In addition to finding that affordable housing is scarce and getting scarcer, the study documented what has been known anecdotally for some time – the population of year-round residents and families with children is declining, and in the finding that is perhaps the most obvious, the report concludes that lack of workforce housing is detrimental to the local economy.

As you drive around the community, notice the number of empty commercial properties and notice the attrition of small businesses here. Unlike resorts and casinos, small businesses depend on a year-round local workforce and, perhaps more importantly, year-round local patronage. A resort or casino can hire seasonal help and can plan for predictable slack seasons – as long as tourists come the resorts and casinos will survive.

When I was growing up my father owned a small retail clothing store in a town that, when I was born, had 25,000 people. His clientele were working-class folks and his stock was work and casual clothes and shoes for the whole family – remember shops like that? Up until World War II, that town had a booming economy. Just prior to the war two-thirds of the leather gloves produced in the world were made there, and the war kept the boom going. In the fifties, though, glove and leather manufacturing moved to Europe, particularly Italy, and the town's economy began to decline, along with my father's business. I remember long, difficult conversations between him and my mother about how hard it was to stay in business, and eventually he closed it and went to work in one of the early crop of discount stores that decimated main streets all over the country.

Most small businesses operate on thin margins and have a tough time when business falls off for any reason. The current recession has exacerbated that problem; we've seen businesses close here and we'll see more close in the coming months, with no commensurate opening of new businesses. Soon our community will consist of the three R's – Raley's, Restaurants, and Realtors.

Predictably, there will be those who will oppose workforce housing or other changes, wanting to keep the community as it was ten or fifteen years ago. Equally predictably, there will those who will decry any attempt to plan or change as a (Washoe County/IVGID/Obama/communist/environmentalist/socialist/liberal/ neoconservative/fascist – pick one) plot. And, at the Community Forum a couple of weeks ago there were those who attempted to redefine the issue to one they could more easily argue against. No such nonsense should be allowed to stand.

Affordable workforce housing will not turn this community into a metropolitan area or even into South Lake Tahoe (whatever that means). As Heather Segale of TERC pointed out, conversion of current land use for housing use can be done in a way that actually contributes to the environment. Most importantly, it will change the character of the community, and I think that's a good thing. This area, famously referred to in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago as "Income Village" needs to change to remain viable as a community. Those who decry any change are missing a couple of salient facts: First, a community is a living thing, and living things change or die. Second, it will change one way or the other – we will, intentionally and with planning make it attractive to young families and to small businesses or it will become more like Squaw Valley or Northstar – a community of vacation homes built around recreation facilities.

Two well-known aphorisms come to mind – the first rule of holes is "if you find yourself in one, stop digging." And in the words of Prof. Irwin Corey, "if we don't change our direction, we're liable to get where we're headed."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Huffington Post Column 9 – What Did Massachusetts Really Mean?

Much, probably too much, has been made of the results of the election for the Senate seat that many of us thought Ted Kennedy would occupy forever, and definitely too much has been written about it. Nevertheless, I'll add my voice to the mass.

I've been a vocal Obama supporter from his entry into the race, and I remain so. At the same time, I wonder if, to use a phrase I first heard on The Daily Show, he might not be the victim of "the subtle racism of high expectations." (By the way, if you haven't seen Jon Stewart's mock interview with Larry Willmore about "Negroes aren't magic" you can find it here).

In point of fact, Obama has accomplished a great deal, much of it very important, in his first year, but he has not (a) passed universal health care, (b) turned the economy around on a dime, or (c) created 100% employment, none of which it was even remotely reasonable to think he would do, yet we thought it – maybe not all three, but many of us, myself included, thought one or two of those or expected other miracles.

At the same time, if you campaign on "the audacity of hope" and "change we can believe in," you have to be responsible for the expectations you create. We dared to hope for miracles, and we set the bar for change we could believe in at least at water from a rock, if not loaves and fishes.

However, that doesn't mean that we should lower our expectations or that the President should back off. Some say the Massachusetts vote was a repudiation of the President, but that's not what the polling says – it would be accurate, I think, to say that the vote was a vote against the status quo, a vote against the slow pace of economic change, a vote against joblessness, while the President remains personally popular. If anything, the message of the vote was "give us the change you promised."

Some say the vote was about health care, and it's true that Martha Coakley included support for the public option, while Scott Brown ran as the 41st vote against reform. As I write this I'm listening to Chris Matthews grilling Howard Dean on this issue and insist that the vote was an anti-health care vote, but in order to do that he is having to insist that it was a one-issue election, ignoring all the other issues. Polling indicates, however, that Obama voters who voted for Brown or who stayed home did so because they want stronger health care reform.

There are also Democratic voices now that are calling for the President to back off, to go slow. Nothing could be a worse course of action. If Obama is going to avoid a nationwide repeat of Massachusetts in November, he must lead and lead strongly. Pass health care with a public option by using reconciliation. Launch an all-out campaign to create jobs – push the unemployment rate below 5% by November by any means necessary. Shake up Homeland Security and make it effective, get a new TSA director who will transform it from Thousands Standing Around to an effective security agency.

In other words, Mr. President, translate the fire of the campaign that gave us hope into action that gives us change, and do it now. And the next person who compares you to Jimmy Carter? Take him to the woodshed on your own behalf and on behalf of your office. We need your leadership now more than ever.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bonanza Column 168 – Which Side Are You On?

As I've said elsewhere (, we are fighting a new kind of enemy, one we are ill-equipped to defeat.

For one thing, the playing field isn't level. We play by rules that include honor, humanity, justice, and decency. The enemy knows none of these – they will say anything, do anything, hurt anyone in the name of their ideology and what they call religion. They will lie, cheat, and distort the truth to fit their view of the world, and they don't care who gets hurt or how many people die as a result of their actions.

So how do we fight them without ourselves becoming them? This has been the critical question any time people who are committed to human values go up against others who have no such commitment. It would be easy if we were willing to be like them – to lie, distort, even kill in the name of our view of what is right, but then we would be no better than they are.

And, given our values, we can't even shut them up – to do so would violate the values we hold most dear – freedom of speech, the right to a speedy trial, to confronting your accusers, and on and on. So what can we do? They say we should be like them – that the ideals on which this country was founded only apply to those whom they favor, and can be waived for those they deem enemies. Set aside for a moment that to do that would cost us our soul, if we tried to do it to them they would hide behind those exact ideals that they so willingly abrogate for others.

By now, you may be suspecting that the enemy of which I'm speaking isn't Al Qaeda or Hamas. I'm talking about the extremists in this country who, have cynically turned one of history's worst natural disasters to their own political ends.

I'm talking about Pat Robertson, television evangelist, who, hours after the quake hit said publicly that "[the Haitian people] got together and swore a pact with the devil if he would get them free of the French," and "the Devil said OK." Understand this was not a metaphor or imagery on Robertson's part – he stated it as historical fact and went on to say that, as a result, Haiti has been cursed ever since.

I'm talking about the mouth that roars – Rush Limbaugh – who the morning after the earthquake said "this will play right into Obama's hands" – that the President will use it to "burnish their credibility with the black community, both light-skinned and dark-skinned" (the last is a shot at Harry Reid). Limbaugh went on to say we should give no aid to Haiti, that it will just "make them lazy" and speaks the words "compassion" and "humanitarian" as if they were something foul in his mouth.

To a lesser extent, I'm talking about commentator Brit Hume who had the gall to publicly tell Tiger Woods that he should give up the Buddhist faith in which he was raised and turn to Christianity.

When there is a new outrage committed in the name of Islam by the likes of Al Qaeda, people here are quick to ask where are the moderate Muslim voices – why is there no outcry from within Islam against these extremists? In the same vein, I ask where are the moderate Conservative voices crying out against these heartless idiots?

Be clear, if you identify yourself as a conservative, Limbaugh, Beck, and their ilk say they are speaking for you, and if you don't disown them, then that claim will stand. If you are a Christian, Robertson and Hume claim to be speaking for you. Where is your voice?

As I said, this is a new kind of enemy, but like the enemy outside, they will not be defeated until people of good will for whom they claim to speak and act stop quietly acquiescing and speak out against them. This week they have proclaimed their inhumanity in your name – will you let it stand? Which side are you on?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tahoe Ticker Column 20 – Pat, Rush, and Haiti

In my column in the Bonanza this week I poked a bit of fun at how easy the Right is making it to criticize them and bemoaned the lack of any intellectually serious conservatism.

And that was before this week when, in the immediate wake of the devastation in Haiti, Pat Robertson from the Christian Right (which, as I've said, I believe is neither) and the ever-reliable Rush Limbaugh on the political (read "wing-nut" right) made statements so unbelievable that, if they weren't so heartless and devoid of humanity, would get them laughed off the air.

In case you missed it, Robertson said, apparently in all seriousness but without a shred of supporting evidence, that in the early 1800's Haiti gained its independence from France by making an agreement with the Devil and all their trouble since have been a result of that. So I guess from Pat's point of view, those Haitian slaves should have just obeyed massa in France and not gained their independence, and the bravery of Toussaint L'Ouverture and his slave rebellion could not have been sufficient to break away on their own.

Really? The Devil? And I guess Pat's God is cruel enough to just keep making the Haitians miserable from time to time rather than either forgive or destroy them for it. Seriously.

Then we have the mouth that roared. Limbaugh has actually said (a) Americans should not give for Haitian relief – "it will just make them lazy," (b) the only reason Obama cares about Haiti is to curry favor among African-Americans ("both light-skinned and dark-skinned" in a side shot at Harry Reid), and (c) Obama took three days to respond to the Christmas Day attempt by the underwear bomber (Fruit of the Boom?) in which no one was injured or killed and that needed some investigation of what happened, but responded to the Haiti earthquake where thousands were killed and injured and millions left homeless (and by the way, let's forget that W took six days to respond to the shoe bomber).

The total lack of humanity in Robertson's and Limbaugh's statements, the cynical twisting of a natural tragedy to their own political ends is sickening. That people still listen to these clowns is mystifying. Thank God for the millions of dollars in aid and the volunteers who have mobilized to help the Haitians. If they had to depend on the right wing-nuts in America, they'd be seriously screwed.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bonanza Column 167 – The Idiocy on the Right

Writing a weekly column for the Bonanza plus a bi-weekly piece on and frequent pieces on Huffington Post, I'm normally hungry for things to write about and scour the local, state, and national news to find items that can stimulate a column in one place or another.

So you'd think that in a week like we just had I'd be happy as a dog that fell into a bowl of gravy. We have Rudi Giuliani (Mister noun, verb, 9/11) saying there were no terrorist attacks on Bush's watch, we have McCain's campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, revealing that La Palin pulled "can I call you Joe?" because she couldn't be trusted to get his name right (and with that still referred once in the debate to "Senator O'Biden), RNCC Chair Michael Steele having a meltdown in his relationship with the party, and more.

All that ought to be great column fodder – I could probably do columns in all three places and not run out of material, and for local color there are the several emails I get each week that state with unwavering certainty that the IB program is a Communist plot, as well as those that are certain it's a violation of church/state separation because it must be religious – after all, it's called Baccalaureate!

So when I sat down to write on this foggy Saturday afternoon it was with a certain sense of anticipation – glee, even. But then, as so often happens to what used to be called "ink-stained wretches," I went blank. If you know me at all you know I'm not often at a loss for something to say, so this struck me as odd. It wasn't that I couldn't decide which of the low-hanging fruit to pick, it was that none of it interested me all that much – it was all too easy – if I might mix metaphors (and kingdoms) it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

The Right in this country is just making it too easy. When Cheney says that the President refuses to use the term "war," or Mary Matalin says he refuses to use the word "terror" and then TV shows run clip after clip of the President using both those terms as far back as the campaign and as recently as last week, when Giuliani makes a statement so egregiously stupid, when the infighting is so blatant and petty as that between Schmidt and Palin or between Steele and almost everybody, it takes all the fun out of it.

Come on, you Righties, stop stealing my job! Stop making it so easy. With Goldwater, Reagan, even Nixon, heck, even McCain, there was at least intellectual challenge. You had to think, to reason, to marshall arguments and evidence. With you guys it's like beating up the wimpy kid on the playground – you can do it, but there's no satisfaction in it and it leaves you feeling uneasy about yourself.

The right wing of the Republican party seems intent on making itself just as irrelevant as Trotskyites on the left did in the '30s, and the cause is the same – a demand for strict, blind adherence to an ideology that is intellectually bankrupt and maintains itself by insisting on its theoretical underpinnings even when they are shown to be inaccurate and corrupt. So we are presented with the spectacle of people simultaneously calling Obama a Communist, a Socialist, and a Nazi, with an insistence that anything the government does is bad while accepting Social Security and Medicare, just to name a couple.

And I predict we'll see it locally when someone has the temerity to suggest that, to survive as a community will require things like affordable housing, the development of an economic infrastructure that will support middle and working class residents, and, yes, an educational program in the schools that will attract people to the community.

Please – where is the 21st Century's William Buckley? Where is someone who will present a conservative philosophy that doesn't depend on "it's so because I say it's so" and third grade level logic? They must be out there – I know intelligent people who are social conservatives, economic conservatives, or even who are both, and who are embarrassed by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, et al., but who, like the great mass of Muslims, who are good, intelligent people, have allowed a few self-proclaimed ideological purists to cow them into silence. Meanwhile, I guess shooting fish in a barrel is better than not fishing at all.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Huffington Post Column 8 – It’s Time We Recognize We Have a New Kind of Enemy

A lot has been written about the Christmas Day terrorist attempt aboard a Detroit-bound flight, and there is no question in my mind that it was a security failure of biblical proportion. I think HuffPost blogger Taylor Marsh summed it up very aptly:

Let's see, a young Nigerian male, whose flight originated out of Lagos airport on the continent of Africa, a notoriously iffy security proposition to begin with, reportedly buys a one-way ticket, paying in cash, with his father (chairman of Nigeria's FirstBank, the oldest bank in the country, with offices in London, Paris and Beijing), notifying the U.S. embassy in Nigeria that his son has been radicalized, warning the U.S., with the young man attempting a terrorist attack that was foiled by sheer sweet luck

In the wake of the event, for a few days at least, airport security was tightened up, with attendant long lines and increased personal searches, and passengers on flights were made to sit, bookless and iPod-less for the last hour of their flights, and heaven help anyone who didn't make it to the bathroom before that hour. There are already signs that this increased security is lightening up, and with good reason – it was a massive overreaction to begin with.

I wonder, though, if we don't need to rethink our whole approach to security in a number of ways.

It seems to me that behind our thinking there is an unarticulated expectation that we should and can be 100% secure, if we just do enough. That thinking may be a holdover from a world that no longer exists.

In 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a shock to Americans – no foreign enemy had assaulted our shores since the British in 1812, and, with two oceans between us and Europe and Asia and friendly powers at our north and south, we felt we were unassailable. The advent of air warfare changed all that and we recognized that we were not so secure any more. Through the cold war of the 1950's and the foreign wars of the rest of the 20th Century we were more or less alert to the possibility of attack, and even expanded our attention to include air hijackings (mostly to Cuba, for some reason).

Finally, 9/11 drove it home – this is a new world. The assault on our shores is not from an army, navy, or air force, but by a new kind of enemy, one who attacked stealthily, in small numbers, and without apparent regard for the deaths of civilians or even for their own death. This took the guerilla warfare that defeated us in Vietnam to a whole new level of danger and frustration for a government and military that was not versed in fighting such an enemy.

There is a country, though, that has lots of experience with this type of enemy – the State of Israel has, since 1948, been under siege in exactly this way, interspersed with conventional wars, and they seem much better at dealing with it than we are – maybe it's time to learn from them.

Israel has what may be the most effective border security in the world, particularly where air travel is concerned. Traveling to Israel I was put through rigorous screening on departure from the US or from points in Europe – in Frankfurt, for example, El Al departures were in a separated area of the airport, and had their own very thorough security.

On leaving Israel the screening was even more tight – usually a minimum of two interviews that were interspersed with trick questions designed to catch lies, and a very complete examination of both carry-on and checked luggage. An Israeli friend of mine was a security officer for El Al, and on one flight a gentleman sat next to me on the upper level of a 747 – this young, very muscular-looking fellow never took off his sport jacket, didn't read, eat or drink, and never took his eyes off the cockpit door. I might have been nervous if my friend hadn't told me enough for me to recognize the man as an air marshal.

I've asked Israeli friends what it's like for them to live under siege, and they are surprisingly relaxed about it. They are clear that the government and military are doing everything they can, and they recognize that even when terrorist attacks are frequent, the odds of any one person being in the wrong place at the wrong time are low, so they go about their lives calmly, albeit carefully.

Maybe we can learn from that – maybe profiling doesn't have to be crude and racially biased, but targeted based on real information and interviews, and maybe the alternative to profiling is not to treat everyone like a potential terrorist, subjecting the very old, the very young, and the infirm to endless inspection while others go through unmolested.

Maybe it's time to recognize that this really is a war – we may be at war against terror and terrorists, but they are also at war against us, and we're not going to find them all and kill them – we have to have more effective defense as well as spending billions on offensive initiatives that don't seem to be working.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bonanza Column 166 – The IB Discussion Should be Fact, not Opinion

As I mentioned in passing last week, my column asking questions about the International Baccalaureate Program (IB) has garnered a considerable response. I've received a number of emails, phone calls, and pieces of literature and have met with a number of people on both sides of the issue.

The most common thing I've heard is along the lines of "I don't know much about it, but…" followed by an opinion pro or con. Some people are engaged in a genuine inquiry to find out about IB, but an alarming number seem willing to form an opinion based on either very little information, information they have heard or read but haven't checked out, or both.

There are some things "going around" that seem flatly untrue. For example, I've heard over and over again that the decision to move forward with IB was taken by the Reflective Task Force without consultation with the school Principals. The phrase I hear a lot is that this was an "end run" around the Principals. I haven't spoken with John Clark or Kathleen Watty yet, and I will, but on the face of it I don't see how this can be true when (a) both Principals were on the Task Force and (b) the Task Force voted unanimously to move forward with IB. Yet the conversation about an "end run" persists.

There is also a lot of what I consider nonsense going around. There is a website called that is apparently the project of a woman in New York who has made it her mission to torpedo IB programs wherever they are proposed. Of course, she has a perfect right to do this and I have no idea what her motives are beyond those she professes on the web site. However, I use the web a lot for research both for my consulting work and for my writing, and as a rule of thumb, I've concluded that websites called "The Truth About…" rarely live up to their name. TAIB starts by disclaiming any objectivity – they have a bias and are admirably up front about it. But then they claim to be presenting facts, many of which are either inaccurate, incomplete, or plainly untrue and that appeal without apparent substance to a right-wing political bias. Notwithstanding that, people here have cited TAIB in their concerns about or opposition to IB.

I think this issue is too important to leave to the dubious mercies of the usual IV/CB opinion-fest. It's one thing when there is a group that will listen and make the decision, à la the TRPA Board on Boulder Bay, but it's another when what is needed is for us to come together as a community to make a decision that will affect not the landscape but the lives of our children and grandchildren and the children of residents to come.

A lot of what is being said about IB can't be proved – proponents speculate that it will bring new, younger, residents to the area – they have some indices that suggest this may be so, but it can't be proved; we will have to rely on our best judgment in evaluating the claim. Likewise the concern that while we may raise the money to fund IB for some years, the money may not be there some years hence – who can say, really? Other claims can and should be evaluated as matters of fact, and facts and opinions are not the same – being sure something is true doesn't make it true, and in this matter more than usually we have to keep in mind the words of a friend of mine's bumper sticker – "don't believe everything you think."

What is needed is a means for a discussion where real facts can be presented and fact-based questions can be asked and answered. I'm working with the Bonanza to put such a forum together – stay tuned.