Friday, March 31, 2006

Extreme Home Maker Over, Complete . . .

All finished!

Extreme Home Maker Over, Update . . .

Almost finished.

Extreme Home Maker Over, Break 2 . . .

Need more supplies.

Extreme Home Maker Over, Break 1 . . .

The toughest part is over . . . I hope.

Extreme Home Maker Over, Part 1 . . .

Tough weather . . . but I won't be stopped.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Condomania . . .

While home prices have soared out reach for about 90% of Californians, housing developers and real estate developers are still hanging on to condominiums. Many parts of the state have already experienced a condominium craze (read: San Diego), but other parts of the state are still seeing a condo explosion, including Long Beach and Orange County.

This article from the Los Angeles Times, points us towards Orange County. Near Anaheim Stadium, there are plans to develop 9,500 new residences. 90% will be condos.

"Where does this put all the upwardly mobile business people, young couples and people that can't afford medium-range houses?" said Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who continued, "We have this master-planned urban community, but I don't want it to be exclusively for people who can afford market-rate housing. Then it becomes something that's unreachable for most people."

Officials with the Kennedy Commission, a nonprofit Orange County group that advocates low-cost housing, say they worry that the Platinum Triangle will become another Anaheim Hills, an upscale enclave in east Anaheim.

"You don't want to segregate the community in that fashion," said Cesar Covarrubias of the Kennedy Commission, "especially adjacent to all the service jobs in that area, with Angels Stadium, the Arrowhead Pond and Disneyland."

In 2004, the Kennedy Commission reported that 48% of the city's 175,000 jobs came from the low-wage service and retail sectors and that 57% of jobs in the city paid less than $16 an hour. The same report noted that a worker had to earn more than $23 an hour to afford the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Anaheim.

The development is expected to pass through the City Council despite the objections.

Part of the problem is that politicians are concerned about the short-term, rather than the long term. Most politicians, especially at the local level, and especially in Long Beach, are doubtfully concerned about where this City will be in 2025. Most politicians, especially at the local level, and especially in Long Beach, are more concerned about where Long Beach will be on the date of their next election.

No doubt, this ‘me first’ attitude will drag us all down in time . . . well everybody except ‘them’.

Kosher Ham

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Housing First . . .

I was invited by the City of Long Beach to join the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness Committee. The invitation, via e-mail, said something about my “enthusiasm” being an asset to their group. Earlier this year I had told myself, “no more commitments!”

So, naturally, next week I’ll be attending my first meeting of the group. I don’t really know the structure of the group, so I don’t know where I fit into the puzzle yet or how far along in the process they are. Nevertheless, I joined the Housing Subcommittee, as that’s a great interest of mine.

I also happen to be a believer that the way to end homelessness is by providing ‘housing first”. This is especially important when dealing with people who have a mental illness. This Steve Lopez article in the Los Angeles Times provides some great insight as to why ‘housing first’ is the best solution.

I know many of you will see ‘housing first’ as pretty obvious concept. I’d agree with you . . . seems pretty simple. Somehow, this concept has completely flown under the radar of Long Beach’s elected officials. The City of Long Beach’s Housing Action Plan (the five year plan on how affordable housing funds should be spent – some $72 million) doesn’t even include the Extremely Low Income (the people at the bottom of our economic spectrum – think of a family of four who earns about $16,000 a year). These folks are homeless, or at great risk for homelessness. Yet, the City of Long Beach doesn’t see the need to spend money on housing for these residents in their City who number in the tens of thousands.

I guess I’m not being entirely fair. Last year the City Council adopted a Housing Trust Fund. They put a measly $500,000 into it (hardly even the cost of an average priced home in Long Beach). Oh, and the kicker . . . they dedicated 80% of that money towards people earning 20% above the average income of the City! Basically, the people who need the most assistance in the area of housing are being provided the least assistance.

I’ve pointed these things out in public before, and intend to do so until there is a significant change in attitude. So, I guess, it’ll be this type of “enthusiasm” that I bring to the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness Committee.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Kosher Ham

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Real State Of The Union . . .

My uncle sent this to me, pretty funny stuff.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Freedom March . . .

About 1 1/2 years ago, I made the following comments on my old blog site. I still stand by it. Iraq is like a bad car accident you wish you had never seen. I bolded the comments I'm most proud of, and ring true today, three years after the invasion of Iraq. Company . . . March . . .

Kosher Ham

PS - And Bush still reminds of a used car sales man, except he's still trying to sell a war that started three years ago.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Freedom Is On the March . . .

Those are the words of President Bush . . . “freedom is on the march” . . . he said those words when he accepted the Republican Party nomination for President, and he said it again yesterday . . . “freedom is on the march”.

Less than two weeks ago the 1,000 death mark was surpassed in Iraq, and sadly, this week, the 1,035 death mark was surpassed . . . freedom marches on.

The lack of planning for this war is on a level of irresponsibility that far surpasses the actions of any Administration to occupy the White House for the last thirty years.

By focusing on reconstruction, we can see how the situation in Iraq is volatile at best. When volatility is the best case scenario, as the July 2004 National Intelligence Estimate makes clear, it makes President Bush look like a used car salesman . . . in this case we’re stuck with a four year lease . . . and no guarantee. Throw on top of that: worn down tires, no gas, a broken windshield, missing headlights, and driver who insists on driving with his eyes closed, and no seat belt, you’ve got what the next four years would be like.

Without reconstructing Iraq’s infrastructure, we can’t win the peace and spread democracy – which I’m not sure you can do with a barrel of a gun anyway.

Kosher Ham

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Paper Tiger . . .

I was reading this article in Los Angeles Times, and I thought it was interesting. The article is a pretty generic story, probably generated by the books publisher, and the film's promoter. Anyway, the story hypes the release of the paper-back version of the Da Vinci Code.

I'm assuming this is the release of the paper-back version of the book - in the United States. Because, when I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the summer of 2004, I purchased a paper-back copy of the book. It was one of the few books actually printed in English, and I heard of it, so it made natural sense to purchase the book for about $11. Oh, and if you think I found it in some small hole-in-the-wall book store . . . think again. I bought it at Wal-Mart*.

I've since lent my copy of the book out, so I can't verify who printed it. But, I did find out soon after I purchased the book, that it was not available in paper back. When I was reading the book on the plane back home, and women asked me where I got the book, and was stunned that I had a copy of the book in paper back.

I told her, "I guess cheap prescription drugs aren't the only thing you can get in Mexico."

Kosher Ham

* This was my one and only trip to a Wal-Mart anywhere in the world.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Little Bit Country . . .

When even country music stars are speaking out against President Bush, you know things are really bad. Of course Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are Democrats, but that doesn’t change the perception. I wonder if Mr. McGraw and Ms. Hill will be pilloried like the Dixie Chicks were band member, Natalie Maines stated, “"Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

And by pilloried I mean: In Kansas City, WDAF placed trashcans outside of its office building in which people could throw away their Dixie Chicks CDs. The station told The Tennessean that it received more than 800 emails from its listeners concerning the Chicks.

All three major country stations in Kansas City pulled the group from their play lists, despite their sold-out concert scheduled the following month.

The most drastic action occurred on March 15, when a crowd in Bossier City, La., watched a 33,000-pound tractor smash Dixie Chicks CDs and other Chick fan items. Children then stomped on the remaining rubble.

Let’s see if the media darlings, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are subject to the same treatment. I doubt it. If you missed what they said in regards to Bush’s performance in rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Here’s a link to the full article, and here are some tasty snippets:

Tim McGraw speaking on the role President Bush should be playing, "There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, 'I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done. And you're held accountable, and you're held accountable, and you're held accountable.”

Faith Hill on the whole situation, “It’s bullshit.”

More Faith, “"It is a huge, huge problem and it's embarrassing."

"I fear for our country if we can't handle our people [during] a natural disaster. And I can't stand to see it. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out point A to point B. . . . And they can't even skip from point A to point B.”

“It's just screwed up."

I just might go get their new hit single!

Kosher Ham

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Rich Get Richer . . .

I must seriously be in the wrong line of work. According to Forbes magazine, the number of billionaires worldwide increased by 102 people in 2006 to 793, a record number, largely due to bullish global stock markets.

Their total net worth jumped 18 percent to $2.6 trillion.

With 371, the U.S. is the country with the most billionaires. The total worth of all U.S. billionaires combined is $1.1 trillion.

The US national debt is somewhere over $8 trillion. So, if we take the $1.1 trillion from the nation’s richest people, we reduce the debt by 1/8, and we only put 371 people on the street. Sure, it would cost localities a bit to pay for homeless services, but in terms of program cuts we could avoid, the net gain would be more than massive.

Now, that’s really getting some bang out of the US Dollar.

Kosher Ham

PS - The quickest way I'm going become a millionaire is to marry (sorry, honey) the woman on the left in the picture above. That's 22-year old Hind Hariri, the daughter of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and the youngest billionaire in the world.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Upside To Civil War . . .

Only FOX News Channel could come with such an absurd talking point. No doubt, priming their conservative viewers for what is apparently an eventuality now in Iraq. Trying to spin blood in the streets into something good is at minimum deplorable. If one were to take things a step further, one might argue that FOX News Channel is undermining our troops’ effort, and aiding the enemy.

Having a major American media outlet wax optimistic about the potential benefits of a civil war in Iraq could certainly be construed as having a negative impact. Maybe the insurgency would feel they are the brink of getting the civil war they want? Maybe they would feel even more justified in their actions? Doesn’t this send a conflicting message to our troops, who are working to avoid a civil war in Iraq?

I’m sure this would be viewed as an exaggeration on my part, but if a liberal media outlet were to make such a suggestion, or rather, do anything that could possible be perceived as aiding and abetting the enemy – the charge would be made.

That’s all. I just thought you might need a reminder of how sick Fox News Channel is.

Kosher Ham

Friday, March 03, 2006

Frank On The Run . . .

The guy in the bottom left-hand corner of this picture (the man in the blue shirt standing above the guy on the cell phone), is Long Beach Mayoral Candidate, and 3rd District Council Member, Frank Colonna. Now, obviously Mr. Colonna is not the drug suspect fleeing the airport. But still, you gotta find some humor in the picture, he caption the Press-Telegram chose, and the simple twist of fate that found Frank Colonna in the picture?

I will say with the Dan Baker/Mark Taylor hubbub surrounding the Bob Foster campaign for the first half of February, Mr. Colonna may very well have pushed himself into the run-off zone. That’s something I didn’t think was going to happen. I’ll still keep my money on Bob (literally), but Frank’s on the move.

Kosher Ham