Archive for October, 2014

“The Ghost of Elections Past”

October 24, 2014


Erin go bragh? Erin go BOO!

Not a St. Patrick’s Day goes by without the spirited shouting of “Erin go bragh!” in every Irish pub worth its weight in leprechauns.

Yes! “Ireland forever!”

But rarely is heard,” Oíche Shamhna Shona!” even whispered in the most hushed of tones, even though “Happy Halloween” would surely be appropriate in the language of those who decided to honor their dead eons ago with a special day of dedicated remembrance. They lit bonfires and dressed in disguises.

“Samhain” (pronounced So-ween’) has pre-Christian roots in Ireland and was regarded as a magical time at the end of summer when spirits, fairies and souls of the dead could more easily cross between worlds. The practice of ritualistic commemoration has been echoed in many other cultures around the world since time began.

Never inclined to let a good pagan holiday go to waste, the Roman Catholic Church in the 9th century shifted the date of All Saints Day to November 1st and named November 2nd, “All Souls Day.” The ancient festival of Samhain is regarded in many esoteric circles as “The Celtic New Year”

And here comes November 4th – Election Day 2014 – another special moment offering genuine potential for fresh beginnings.

Tom McClintock has haunted the halls of Congress long enough.

For more than three decades, this classic specter of a self-serving career politician has known nothing but a relatively sheltered existence with pension benefits and a life style guaranteed and subsidized by hard working taxpayers. Since 2009, he has earned the dubious distinction of being the most reactionary representative on the Tea Party right whose main claim to fame was shutting down Yosemite last fall.

When trapped, he disingenuously snarls back with fanciful facts and loose logic.

In the September 16th issue of the Sierra Star, I wrote, “Sheriff John Anderson, about to leave office after seventeen years of outstanding service to the community, publicly observed that his personal efforts to obtain intervention from Congressman McClintock in the ongoing dispute over Chukchansi tribal control have been in vain. Moreover, Sheriff Anderson reports that McClintock has never even displayed the professional courtesy of returning any of his calls.”

Subsequently, the Star published a response from McClintock stating, “Peter Cavanaugh accuses my office of ignoring a request for assistance from Sheriff John Anderson.” He then proceeded to allege that his “staff” intervened and, by his own admission, accomplished nothing.

No, Congressman. I stand by my story that you failed to personally return any of the Sheriff’s calls or deal with him directly yourself, leaving resolution of this critical and now tragic situation to hapless office flunkies you can blame for failure. Up here in the mountains we know the difference.

Art Moore is a hard driving, combat-tested, Conservative Republican who gets my vote next Tuesday. He led our troops in war. I will be proud having him lead our 4th Congressional District in Washington.

And there’s a former Navy Commander I’ll also be supporting. David Linn promises to restore public trust. His endorsements are outstanding and, by any standard, completely outmatch those of his competitor. David Linn will make an exceptional District Attorney. I’m delighted he’s in the race.

Similarly, Michael Salvador has proven himself time and time again as a highly effective deputy and Undersheriff. Mike will provide a smooth, seamless transition in assuming the full responsibilities of Sheriff. That said — hats off to Jay Varney for running a classy, dignified, professionally polished campaign.

And where will you be Election Night?

The Oakhurst Democratic Club will be raising funds for our Eleanor Roosevelt Community Service Awards, each year providing scholarship assistance to graduating seniors from Yosemite High School.

Here’s the deal. My colleague, Alan Cheah, and I will be acting as “Celebrity Bartenders” at Crab Cakes, “acting” being the operative word. Look for us upstairs Tuesday night in Roman’s Bar from 6 till 9:30.

And here’s an important tip. Get there early for free food. There’ll be home-fried Tortilla chips and salsa, domestic cheese and crackers, Buffalo wings with whiskey BBQ sauce, meatballs with cabernet cream sauce, Risotto Aranchinis with Shitake mushrooms, cream cheese, and assorted fruit.

We’ll be tracking election returns by all electronic means available, including TV’s, Laptops, iPads, iPhones, Androids and Miracle Ears.

We’ll even stick our heads out the window listening for howls of joy or scowls of scorn from winners or losers aimlessly wandering through the night — hoping for one particular ghostly gasp signaling the beginning of a new era in our underserved Fourth Congressional District.

It’s time.

“Ground Zero”

October 16, 2014


It’s a sad little town.

The week The Beatles were first introduced to American viewers in February of 1964, I began what was to become an extended relationship with Flint, Michigan.

Having left my hometown of Syracuse, I joined the air staff of WTAC radio as nighttime DJ during Flint’s halcyon era as the city enjoyed global recognition for being home of the highest paid industrial workers in the entire free world.

Virtually every entity in town was organized, many affiliated with the mighty United Auto Workers, whose struggle for economic justice won a milestone victory in 1937 after a historic sit-down strike at Flint’s Fisher Body #1, leading to the eventual signing of the first contract ever between General Motors and the union. That next year, UAW membership grew from 30,000 to 500,000.

Workers in other organizations quickly followed suit.

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians represented every radio and TV station in the market, including WTAC. NABET Local 46 President, Clair Bowser, was control operator during my shift — meaning he ran all the technical equipment and I just talked.

We enjoyed such benefits as free health care with dental and vision fully covered, paid life insurance, guaranteed wage increases, unlimited sick days, up to four weeks of annual vacation time and similar perquisites as a matter of honest exchange. We weren’t “entitled.” It was earned.

I left the air after joining management in 1974, promoted up through the ranks to become president of the station in 1979. But for most of 1974, I was still “Peter C.” and all the kids at Flint Southwestern High listened regularly.

Little Lou Werbe was calling for requests and dedications all the time back then, but I was amazed a few months ago when he contacted me anew. Lou is now the 6’5 Chief Operating Officer of a major Los Angeles general contracting firm with a client list which includes dozens of America’s top companies. He wondered what it would take to have “Peter C.” as DJ at the 40th High School Reunion of the Flint Southwestern Class of 1974. I told him such an event would be my first time back in Flint as a disc jockey in 40 years, but if he’d send me the plane tickets, I’d be there. He did and I was.

Last Saturday night, the Flint Country Club rocked way past midnight with hot music turned up loud as the Class of 1974 celebrated the moment and each other with loving kindness, caring and affection now extended throughout their lives. It was obvious. Some things you just can’t fake.

And you can’t ignore the sad realities of Flint today.

General Motors employment in Flint has dropped from 80,000 in 1978 to under 8,000. Correspondingly, the city’s population has plummeted from 200,000 in 1964 to under half of that in 2014, the first time it’s been under 100,000 since the 1920s. Buildings, factories and former homes have been abandoned by the thousands. Entire blocks rest in ruins. Poverty is omnipresent.

There’s an important connection Flint has with Oakhurst.

Jery Stewart Lacayo passed away only weeks ago.

Quoting my friend, Les Marsden, in this month’s issue of “The Mountain Democrat: “It’s unimaginable that any other person so greatly influenced the course of organized local Democratic institutions in these mountains as Jery Stewart Lacayo.”

Jery’s grandfather was the legendary Wyndham Mortimer — firebrand leader of the early UAW. It was Mortimer who ignored threats on his life and organized Flint’s Sit Down Strike — a true tipping point in the American labor movement, then personally negotiated the first General Motors — UAW agreement.

Michael Moore’s Uncle LaVerne was another major strike organizer and participant. It’s been a full quarter-century since the release of Mike’s landmark “Roger & Me,”gaining ever-increasing recognition as being powerfully prophetic. In 2013 the film was added to the official National Film Registry, a unique distinction.

Twenty-five years ago, Michael showed us the future. Work was crossing borders. Free trade had no barriers. The free market economy only provided freedom to those able to pay for it. Money and power became concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Flint was ground zero for the beginning of our American middle class decline.

A visit there brings sorrow.

And commitment to a better tomorrow.

That’s what I spoke about at Monday’s Flint Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, encouraging entrepreneurial leadership and individual initiative, but most of all, thanking those in attendance for staying so long when so many others have left.

Striving for the day when so many things can once again be made in America.

And shared by all.