Poligags :: America's Fix Tank


Month: April, 2015

The “Malling” of America – Mega-Mall Proposed for the Grand Canyon

Teddy Roosevelt ascended to the presidency in 1901 and used his authority to create the U.S. Forest Service and establish 51 federal bird reservations, four national game preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks. He used the 1906 Antiquities Act to establish 18 National Monuments. In total, Roosevelt protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land, proclaiming, “people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

Some people’s ideas of “forever,” “beauty” and “unmarred” are a bit different than Roosevelt intended. A group called Confluence Partners is proposing a mega-mall and theme park (including trams and an IMAX theater) for one of the most iconic sites in the US: the Grand Canyon. Don’t believe us? They have a website detailing the entire plan and explaining their year-long silence while “negotiating” with the Navajo Nation: http://grandcanyonescalade.com/

Of the partners, there are several stand-outs:

You can “just say no” to this ill-conceived plan and those promoting it via a SumOfUs petition: http://action.sumofus.org/a/grand-canyon/?

© 2015 Poligags

The Fight for $15: Legislative Update

There are a few bills in play or being drafted in some state legislatures that aim to address the plight of low-wage workers. As near as we can tell, their main intent is to apply pressure to major employers – those that directly employ a certain number of people within that state who earn less than the strived-for threshold of $15 per hour – to voluntarily adopt paying a living wage.

Across the country, full-time minimum wage earners find themselves having to apply for food stamps and other forms social assistance. Their employers encourage them to; their employers show them how. The public subsidizes these bad players through their taxes.

So, you would think we would welcome an effort in Connecticut that proposes to force employers with 500 or more direct employees and paying less than $15/hour to pay an assessment of $1 per employee as described in the Hartford Courant. The truth is, we’re not so sure about it as it is written.

The Courant did not, in its roughly 1150-word article, mention the bill number. So we did the research. It turns out that there are actually two similar bills – one in each chamber of the state’s General Assembly.

The one mentioned in the article corresponds to SB 1044. If passed, it would apply to employers of 500 or more people, and would impose a tax / fee / fine on every one who is not paid $15 per hour or greater. The money would go straight into the General Fund to be re-distributed to state social service agencies “to support and improve the quality of state-supported consumer-directed services for elderly and disabled persons” and to increase access to “school readiness programs, the child care subsidy program…Head Start, Early Head Start or other programs…” Funds would also be allocated for administering and enforcing the law.

The second piece of legislation is HB 6791. This one would apply to employers of 250 or more direct employs. Like SB 1044, a wage threshold is established, as is an assessment for every person not being paid at or above that rate. Again, the money goes to the state treasury. And, after that, it seems to do nothing other than pay for the program itself!

There is not one word in either of these bills about direct assistance to the affected workers on whose backs these funds would be generated. Elder and child care are certainly worthy social services, but if a low-wage worker has neither elderly relatives nor young children requiring these programs, how are workers’ lives in any way improved by these bills?

© 2015 Poligags

Dear TransCanada: We Have Great Plains Land Narwhals

On April 3, the environment-decimating tar sands oil company, TransCanada, announced that its $12 billion Energy East project was now set to come online in 2020, instead of 2018 as originally planned.

Why? Because their environmentally-conscious, corporate-person heartstrings were tugged at by endangered beluga whales.

Yes, the same people who want to transect the US with their KXL pipeline also plan a nearly 3000-mile tar sands delivery line running from Alberta to the Atlantic. Those plans included marine and tank terminals situated unsettlingly close to the St. Lawrence River, where a population of those dratted-but-undeniably-cute, pipeline-thwarting belugas reside.

Being a bit on the jaded side, we’re more inclined to believe that political opposition in Canada and the requirement for TransCanada to submit a climate impact statement (Energy East may generate around 30 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually) just might have something to do with the decision, too.

And, with their domestic plans on hold, it is possible that TransCanada will again look southward and renew its efforts to build KXL through the US heartland. Perhaps it’s time to convince them that nation’s breadbasket is the habitat of the ultra-rare cousin of the belugas: the Great Plains Land Narwhal.

 photo GP20Land20Narwhal_zps7mnr3jqi.jpg

♪♫ Narwhals, narwhals poking at the pipeline
Causing an explosion, like some kind of land mine ♪♫

(apologies to whoever came up with the original “Narwhals” song)
© 2015 Poligags