IMACA: preserve block grants
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” -Ghandi
The current Congress in our country is planning on decreasing the funding for the Community Services Block Grants that support organizations serving the lowest income families in our midst.
IMACA Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) manages this money in Inyo and Mono counties serving families from Tecopa to Topaz.
It provides 655 residents and their families with access to commodities, a monthly food distribution as well as running bimonthly food pantries in Bishop and Lone Pine, providing energy assistance and weatherizing services to more than 700 families each year. And housing assistance is provided to 88 seniors and low income families.
Most of IMACA’s clients are seniors and/or disabled, families unable to find full time work or the unemployed.
I work with 1- and 2-member families, whose total income is $850.
As Minnesota Senator Al Franken (D) pointed out in December, “During the past 20 years, 56% of all income growth went to the top 1% of households. Even more unbelievable, one third of all income growth went to just the top 1/10 of 1%. Some people are definitely not broke, but we can’t raise their taxes.”
But we can cut funding for our disabled, seniors and low income families. I’m ashamed; if you are, too, then call your congressional representatives about this.
This past tax season the AARP Tax-Aide program in Mammoth Lakes provided free tax assistance to more than 260 low-to-moderate income taxpayers in Mono County. For those that like statistics, we e-filed 216 federal returns (a 40% increase over last year) and 231 state returns, prepared 12 prior year returns and 3 amended returns, and handled 14 different states for our transient population.
This would have not been possible without the help of our partners and group of dedicated volunteers, who take time each year to train and be certified by the IRS.
Thank you to the Mammoth Lakes Library for providing us with such a fantastic workplace. Thank you to Deanna Campbell of Cerro Coso Community College, for the use of the college facilities for training. Thank you to Pat Pontak CPA for our instruction. Thank you to the local papers for publishing details about our service and to the local businesses for letting us post flyers.
A huge thank you to our volunteers who gave of their time to study, train, and serve as counselors: Terri Alfaro, Jean Holden, Jim Sanford, John Stavlo, and Don Zeleny. And thank you to OJ Zeleny for pitching in at our front table when we were short of volunteers.
Lastly, a big thank you to my District Coordinator Tommy Thompson of Bishop, who always has my back.
AARP Tax-Aide Local Coordinator
Producers and Parasites
The movie “Atlas Shrugged” has been out for about 2 weeks now. Ayn Rand, the author of the book, created an elitist world in which the superman cardboard character John Galt, born without any empathy for others, acts out his belief that the only moral value is personal power. Those who are weak deserve no love or comfort. The world is starkly divided into the few commanding ‘producers’and the masses of ‘parasites’ who feed off their creativity.
After the obvious failure of the economist Milton Friedman’s model in which markets free from pesky government regulations resulted in the worst economic collapse since the Depression, suddenly Ayn Rand has resurfaced as the new hero of the Right. The 2011 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) held the world premiere of the trailer for the movie and the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) hosted the first screening of the film. The movie was financed by a devotee of Rand’s philosophy and has been heavily pitched at the Freedom Works (Koch funded) Tea Party demographics.
What has this to do with you? Well the connection is Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee. Did you know that he requires that his staff must read ‘Atlas Shrugged”? And he has stated that her philosophy was the reason he entered public service. Most importantly her doctrine is clearly mirrored in his 2012 budget ‘Path to Prosperity’. Ryan follows her model by proposing a bill that will transfer tens of trillions of dollars from the peasants and serfs in our society (you and me) to the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the rich.
It’s truly depressing when I look at what is happening in our country. Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is trying to eliminate the right of unions to organize and bargain. The governor of Michigan is eliminating the rights of communities to elect and control their own destinies. Regulatory agencies that protect our environment, health, safety and food are being savaged by cuts. Privatizing and selling public works including public schools is now quite popular in Republican controlled legislatures.
I know this is a leap but let me share two examples of what our society used to look like before unions organized and regulations on businesses were passed to protect we moochers and parasites. In 1859 men working in a shoe factory earned $3 a week and women earned $1 a week working 16 hour days. During the Civil War, girls in a New York umbrella factory worked from six in the morning to midnight, earning $3 a week, and the employers deducted the cost of needles and thread. (Howard Zinn, People’s History of the United States).
The only protection we have from Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and their ilk is to refuse to be herded backwards towards the Gilded Age. We are not a nation of egoists, ruled by narcissism and power. We are a society that cares about each other and the health of our planet for our children’s future…a ‘we’ society, not a ‘me’ society. (Another note: There is a reason why Senator Paul is named Rand.)
Tuesday, May 3rd is National Teacher Day! We want to take time to thank not only our teachers but all of the folks that support our children in our schools.
Great schools are supported by great people and that includes everybody from the bus driver, to the food services worker, to the instructional assistants, to the secretaries, to the classroom teachers! All of these people make up our great schools organization!
Teachers in Mammoth and in communities across the nation will be in the spotlight on National Teacher Day, as students, parents, school administrators and the general public learn how teachers and all of the support staff are making great public schools for every student.
Few other professionals touch as many people as teachers do on a consistent basis day in and day out. We know that teaching is a calling and that teachers have dedicated their lives to ensure that their students are going to be successful and make all efforts to achieve that goal. We all remember that very special teacher that did make a difference in our lives and they will be remembered forever. Great teachers inspire students to be great!
We also realize that our teachers are role models for our children and that this brings satisfaction to the work and also the awesome responsibility associated with that work.
It does take a community to raise a child and this great community of Mammoth has the opportunity to surround our children with the unconditional support that they are going to need to be competitive in this ever changing global environment.
The National Day of the Teacher continues to remind us that we all must advocate for high standards for all students regardless of academic challenge as it is both our legal and moral obligation to teach each and every student that arrives at our school door. It is a time for the community to reflect and support our teachers and all of the support staff in our district schools that have committed their lives to our children.
It is with great honor that we celebrate our teachers and their work as a part of the National Day of the Teacher.
Superintendent of Schools
Mammoth Unified School District