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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honoring Veterans

California has more homeless veterans than any other state in the union and federal funding for housing for these vets has declined over the past few years.

Like all vulnerable populations during an economic downturn, vets have shouldered more than their fair share of the burden. Our country likes to pump its fists, yell “USA! USA!” and send the Blue Angels into the air to glorify our military, but we are less than willing to properly support soldiers returning from war.

San Francisco is planning a memorial to veterans at a cost of 2.5 million; about 2/3 of the funds required has already been raised for the project.

The memorial, a series of three reflection pools, will be located between the War Memorial Veterans Building (which, by the way, doesn’t house any entities having do with veterans – it’s a performing arts center) and the War Memorial Opera House (ditto). Both buildings, completed in 1932, were constructed to honor the soldiers of World War I. These are lovely civic buildings with character, but exactly how these edifices honor vets, I am not sure. I doubt that anyone entering these buildings for a performance or lecture or art show thinks about soldiers, or sailors, or airmen and women. Civic buildings and art can certainly honor vets, but the link here is tenuous.

The new veterans memorial will no doubt provide a haven for opera goers and those attending events at the War Memorial Building to meet before a performance. It may also provide a place for those busy people (who work in the area but can't afford to dine in the area’s numerous restaurants) to sit and rest for a bit and eat their bag lunches under the soothing influence of the reflecting pools.

Now that’s fine – calm, peaceful public spaces are an asset to any area. But how that memorial will help or “honor” vets, is frankly, beyond me. I suppose homeless vets can hang out at the reflection pools, pondering their lives, but more than likely, they will be asked to move along. We can’t have homeless folk congregating by a lovely memorial; they will detract from the memorial’s peacefulness and beauty.

San Francisco enjoys many pubic art installations and memorials can be a wonderful way to remember important events and people, but why create a memorial that will not in any way help vets in a time when they need help? Why not take that funding and create a memorial that actually helps veterans – why not use it to provide some low-cost housing for homeless vets?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rincon Post Office Annex

This week's post is up at my other blog, 46.7 Square Miles (yup, you guessed it that's the area of San Francisco).

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th of July



Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mark Dayton: Superhero

Finally, a politician with some balls. And integrity.

Mild mannered, bespectacled Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has shut down his state’s government. Why? Because he clearly understands that the true problem with Minnesota’s state budget (just like so many state budgets across the land and the Federal budget as well) is primarily not a spending problem, but a revenue problem.

His solution: raise taxes on those in the state that make a million dollars or more.

In California, chicken-shit Governor Brown wanted to extend the sales tax and the car registration fees that were increased a few years ago. And who does that hurt the most? The lower-middle class, the working poor, the unemployed, and families living below or at the poverty level. And who does it not affect? The wealthy. At least Brown wanted to take the proposal to the voters, but the Republicans shut that down – fast. Brown didn’t even bring up the idea of raising taxes on those who could most afford it. We now have a budget that cuts social services and funding for education. Because lord knows, you can’t close the loopholes on corporate taxes here in California and you can’t raise taxes on the privileged few who control the vast majority of wealth and whose lives just keep on getting better and better while the lives of the majority of us keep on getting worse and worse.

But back to Minnesota. The Minnesota legislature shares the burden for the government shut down – the Republican-controlled legislature would rather cut services on Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations than require millionaires to pay a bit more. And why not? We are, after all, living in a very Dickensian time. Please sir, may I have just a bit more of that day-old porridge sitting at the bottom of the pot? Hell no – and besides, we’re putting that pot away on the back shelf – and charging you for the storage fees too!

Dayton’s family is rich. And his values are rooted in the Bible – that old idea that those who are blessed have a responsibility to help those who have far less. His early adulthood experience of teaching in an impoverished inner-city school also informs his thinking. “Through no choice of our own, I was born into great wealth and they were born into this abject poverty. The injustice really seared my conscience,” Dayton told the Associated Press.

Besides, as Dayton puts it: “I grew up in that [wealthy] environment. I know people can afford it.”

Put a superman cape on that man!