Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Berkeley Police Chief Sends Officer to Reporters Home After Midnight

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan sent of his officers to the home of Doug Oakley, a Bay Area News Group reporter, in an attempt to get the reporter to change his story.  Chief Meehan didn’t like the way he was portrayed in a story and sent Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to his home at 12:45 AM.  She had been ordered by Chief Oakley to “request” that he change a story he had written.


When the Sgt. Arrived at the home her repeated knocking woke the entire family, including Mr. Oakley’s wife sand two small children ages three and five.


Oakley’s first concern was that something bad had happened to a relative, but he was instead told he needed to change his story about a rowdy community meeting that Chief Meehan had attended the night before. The Chief’s representative made it known the Chief wanted the story changed “right now.”  But Oakley explained the story couldn’t be altered even if he wanted to until morning.


After Sgt. Kusmiss left, Oakley’s knees started shaking and he had a panic attack.


His fear was generated by wondering what might have happened if someone who was less understanding had been sent by the Berkeley Police Chief.  Did the Chief plan to send more armed officers to the reporter’s door every time he felt like having a story changed?


The Interim City Council Manager, Christine Daniel said, “There was no justification for contacting the reporter in this way and that a more appropriate response to his concerns should have been to wait until the following day to make contact by phone or by email.”


People have expressed their concern and outrage around Berkeley from Officer Tom Kaplin, who is the head of the Police Officers Union, to residents who call for his resignation, to Peter Sussman, a Berkeley First Amendment advocate who suggested it was police intimidation pure and simple, however he intended it.




Do Women Need Birth Control and Safe Abortions? The Story of Emma Brown Carmack

EOM Staff EmmaBrownCarmac

Several states are making it more difficult for women to obtain an abortion.  Some states only have one abortion provider.  Some states require a 24 – 48 hour waiting period after seeing a doctor before he will perform an abortion.  Now some states are requiring trans-vaginal ultrasounds prior to an abortion.  Some states won’t even allow abortions to save the life of the mother. Additionally, there are forces out there trying to ban birth control.

Please take a few minutes to read about Emma Brown Carmack and what her lack of birth control and a safe abortion meant to her family.

Emma Carmack was my great-grandmother.  She lived in Tennessee and was married with six children.  Her husband was an alcoholic who seldom worked and when he did earn some money, all of it went to alcohol.  Emma and her children were incredibly poor.  They had to rely upon the kindness of neighbors for food and clothing.  They often went to bed hungry.  In the early 1900s, when Emma’s oldest child (my grandmother) was 11 years old, Emma discovered she was pregnant again.  This was in the days of “marital rights” for husbands and women could not legally say “no” to a husband.  There was also no form of reliable, effective birth control, or any way to safely terminate the pregnancy.

Emma was desperate.  She didn’t want to bring another child into the world only to face starvation.  She had no hopes of providing a good future for her children and another child would just mean even less for the children she already had.  We’re not talking about fewer toys…we’re talking about less food, less hope.

So, Emma did what thousands of other desperate women did.  She tried to end her pregnancy with knitting needles.  She sent my grandmother and her older boys off to school.  She sent the younger boys to a neighbor’s house.  She left her three month old baby in his crib.  Then she laid down on her bed and tried to end her pregnancy.  Emma bled to death in her bed.  She must have had a few minutes to realize that she was going to die and leave her children motherless.  Can you imagine how helpless and desperate she felt?

My grandmother came home from school to find the baby crying in his crib and her mother laying on a blood-soaked mattress.  Now she was faced with the prospect of caring for all her younger brothers and she was only 11 years old.  Her father appeared long enough to bury his wife and put his children on a bus to Arizona.  A young girl, caring for a three month old baby and four other young children, all the way from Tennessee to Arizona.  They moved in with a spinster aunt who raised them.  They still lived in poverty with very little hope of a decent future.  I’m proud to say that my grandmother raised her brothers well.  She worked hard and sent them to school and one of them managed to go to college.  One joined the military and died in Germany during world War I.  But my grandmother’s opportunities were very limited by the circumstances of caring for her siblings.

I have a very old picture of Emma sitting on a lawn in a long dress and surrounded by friends and sisters.  Sitting in front of her is a blonde haired toddler who I believe is my grandmother.  Emma looks very happy in the picture.  When I look at this, I often wonder how long she was happy.  She must have been worn down by having a baby every year and the poverty that overtook her life.  I can’t imagine that her happiness lasted very long.

Studies have shown that women who control how often and how many babies they have are much healthier and happier.  So are their children.  I have never believed that abortions are good.  But I do believe they are necessary at times.  Desperate women take desperate measures and those measures shouldn’t have to include knitting needles, back-alley doctors, infections, bleeding, and death.

If you have a mother, sister, wife or daughter, please consider their circumstances.  They should have every right to plan their pregnancies and control the size of their families.  If their life is in danger, would you want them to die rather than have an abortion?

The goal of both conservatives and liberals is to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country.  But making them illegal won’t do that.  It will just mean that more women will die.  Banning birth control will only increase the number of abortions performed whether they are legal or not.

If there is a woman in your life that you care about, please join her in her fight to retain the right to birth control and her right to choose what is best for her and her family.

Please consider this important issue when you vote and remember what happened to Emma Carmack because of her lack of choices.  My grandmother and her brothers had to grow up without their mother.  Their children all grew up without their grandmother.

We can stop this from happening again, but only if we stand together.

The Bee’s Drones Wave Their Stingers in a Blind Defense

By Emerson Drake

The MID Board in their great wisdom allow 125 defects( which is requiring walls to be torn down and storage pools to be rebuilt, even the wrong type of concrete was used) in the new water treatment plant which could end up costing citizens and ratepayers MILLIONS of dollars and now they’re selling us a bill of goods about wanting to sell water to San Francisco instead of investing it in Stanislaus County and our citizens.

The thinking public had hoped with Mark Vasch’s imminent departure, the Editorial Staff would stop their blind devotion to members on the MID board that they foolishly endorsed.  The Editorial Staff’s slavish behavior is surpassed only by Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda, and Glen Wild’s, lemmings over the edge of a cliff mentality, to MID’s G.M. Allen Short.
Ask yourselves how many times in the last 100 years the flume has been in peril by earthquakes.  Ask why suddenly has this taken the forefront of the debate. 
Even more importantly, ask how they intend to sell water we don’t  have for the next 10 years, when/if the changes  to the system are made, we wouldn’t be able to recapture it until 10 years from now, after the proposed water contract is complete.
And most importantly remember to get off of your tail ends and go to the Modesto City Council meeting Tuesday night, March 12th at 5:30, to ask these and other questions and let your opinions be heard.

Is This A War On Women? What Do You Think?

By EOM Staff

The Republicans keep denying that they are waging a war on women.  Let’s review the facts:

17 Republican led  states have passed or are attempting to pass stringent anti-abortion laws, including forcing the woman to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound and listen to her doctor read from a government mandated statement prior to proceeding with an abortion.  Do you want the government to control what your doctor tells you?

They claim that women “don’t understand” what they are doing when they terminate a pregnancy.  We are the ones who get pregnant.  I think we know better than men what a pregnancy means. A recent survey by the California State University, San Francisco, followed 467 women who had abortions.  They were all offered (not required) to view an ultrasound image of the fetus.  60% chose to do so.  After viewing the image, all 60% went through with their decision to terminate the pregnancy.  Once a woman has decided to have an abortion, she usually doesn’t change her mind no matter what hoops the government might make her jump through.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt (Missouri) attempted to pass a bill allowing employers to opt out of insurance coverage for “any treatment to which they have a moral objection.”  This could include birth control, pre-natal care for an unmarried woman, even treatment for cervical cancer which is caused by a virus that is transmitted sexually.  How does this make health care more accessible and affordable for anyone?  Do you want your employer to get between you and your doctor?

Republicans would like to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides millions of women and children (and some men) with general health care (cancer screenings, immunizations and vaccinations and birth control.) They want it to close because they think that Planned Parenthood is using federal funds for abortions, which is illegal.  Planned Parenthood has opened their books for inspection and no evidence has ever been found that federal funds are used for abortions.  Planned Parenthood provides, in many cases, the only health care that some women and children receive.

The state of Texas has greatly reduced its funding of sex education and is one of the states that requires women to jump through hoops prior to terminating a pregnancy.  Young women will be much better prepared to avoid an unwanted pregnancy if they are provided with more information on how to prevent one (sex education.)

Now the great state of Wisconsin is proposing SB 507 which is aimed at penalizing single mothers by calling their unmarried status “a contributing factor in child abuse and neglect”.  This bill criticizes social workers for not agreeing that children “should ONLY be raised by two married biological parents.”  It would also amend existing state law by “requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize non-marital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect”.  So instead of congratulating these women for choosing not to abort, they are accusing them of being guilty of child abuse.  And they seem to forget for every unmarried mother there is an unmarried father out there somewhere.  I’m sure that some of these women chose to be unmarried.  I believe some of these children live in a home with both biological parents, who just aren’t married. I’m also sure that a much greater percentage are unmarried because the fathers of their children chose to bail out of the relationship.  And some of these women are unwed mothers because they left an abusive relationship.  Would the children benefit by living in an abusive household?

I work for a small employer in Modesto.  There are 13 employees there.  Among those 13 employees, I am aware of 5 young children whose fathers have chosen not to be involved in their lives and make no financial contribution to the care of their children.  Yet Wisconsin would say that these mothers are guilty of child abuse.  What about the fathers?  Don’t they bear some responsibility for these children?

Nobody believes abortions are a good thing.  But they will occur whether they are legal or not.  The goal of both liberals and conservatives is to reduce the number of abortions performed.  How can banning birth control possibly do this?  How can prohibiting sex education prevent unplanned pregnancies?

When you consider all this information, this can only be seen as an attempt to control women by preventing them from being in charge of their own health care and their reproductive lives.

I’d call it a war on women.  What would you call it?

Is MID Scaring New Businesses Away from Modesto

By Emerson Drake

One of our contributors sent these electricity rates to us as a comparison of what other communities pay.  The numbers may surprise you.

• Modesto Irrigation District — $134.53

• Pacific Gas & Electric — $133.92

 • San Diego Gas & Electric — $129.58

• Southern California Edison — $128.26

• Roseville Electric — $106.43

• L.A. Dept. of Water & Power — $100.68

• Sacramento Municipal Utility District — $91.80

• Turlock Irrigation District — $91.17

Now we know why businesses are looking in another direction.  And we know why families are moving out of Modesto.



By EOM Staff

Chris Wallace, of Fox News, questioned Rick Santorum on Sunday about his position on birth control, his charitable giving and his comment that President Obama is a “snob” for encouraging young people to go to college.  Apparently, Mr. Santorum has forgotten that he went to college and I’m sure his children have or will.

When questioned about his beliefs on birth control, he tried to steer the discussion away from contraception and toward the issue of religious liberty.  Remember, President Obama has already allowed religious institutions to have an exemption to providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans. This is no longer a religious freedom issue, this is a women’s rights and women’s health issue.  Mr. Santorum believes birth control is harmful to woman.  He ignores the fact that 99% of sexually active women use birth control at some point in their lives.  He is certainly free to have his beliefs which are based upon his religion, but he is certainly NOT free to force the effect of those beliefs onto all American women.

President Obama and Mitt Romney both gave 14% of their 2010 earnings to charity.  Mr. Santorum gave 1.76% of his earnings to charity.  When questioned about his low charitable contributions, he contributed it to the expense of caring for a disabled child.  He explained that providing care for her is very expensive and his insurance doesn’t cover it.  His daughter Bella is very fortunate that her parents can provide the best possible care for her, however, Mr. Santorum fails to understand that there are very few families who could provide for a disabled child as well as he can.  For most families, the cost of caring for such a child would result in limited educational opportunities for other children in the family and reduced funds available for basic needs such as food and clothing.  For most of us, this financial burden would drive our families into abject poverty.  How do you care for a disabled child when your water, electricity and gas have been turned off because you couldn’t pay the bill?  Very few women have an abortion without given serious thought to the consequences for themselves and their families.  For many families, terminating a pregnancy involving a disabled fetus may be the only realistic option.  But remember, Mr. Santorum is against pre-natal testing because he feels it leads to abortions involving abnormal fetuses.  Again, he forgets that we can’t all care for a disabled child like he can.  And, Mr. Santorum has said that birth control shouldn’t be allowed.  So he would condemn many, many families to poverty to pay for disabled children, when the pregnancy could have been not just terminated, but prevented.  Very few women terminate a pregnancy without giving serious thought to the consequences for themselves and their families.  This is a decision best left to the mother, the father and her doctor.  Not to Rick Santorum or our government.

Chris Wallace also asked Mr. Santorum about his recent comment calling President Obama a snob for saying that “everybody in American should go to college.”  Mr. Santorum had to acknowledge that he “might have made a mistake” when Chris Wallace pointed out that what President Obama actually said was to encourage “all Americans to have at least one year of higher education or some kind of vocational training or apprenticeship”.

Part of Mr. Santorum’s problem with higher education seems to be his belief that people who start college with a strong faith seem to come out of it with a lesser faith.  But then, he seems to equate true faith with regular church attendance.  I believe you can have a strong faith and never step inside a church.  The church is just a building.  Your faith is shown in how you live your daily life.  And frankly, some of the comments I’ve seen on blog sites by people who claim to be Christians and have a strong faith, are the most hateful things you can imagine.

But, Mr. Santorum, the bottom line is that we are all free to follow any faith we choose, or no faith at all.  But you are trying to force your faith and your religious beliefs into our government.  Remember when John Kennedy was running for President, people were afraid that if he won, the Vatican would control our government.  And that’s exactly what would happen if Mr. Santorum were president.  It would not matter what faith individual Americans have or if they have no faith.  We would all have to live by the rules of the Catholic Church.  How un-American is that?

Are Your Mothers, Wives, Sisters and Daughters all “Sluts and Prostitutes”?

By EOM Staff

According to Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke is a “slut and a prostitute.”  Ms. Fluke is a University of Georgetown law student, who recently gave testimony about contraception.  Ms. Fluke was denied the opportunity to testify before the Congressional panel formed to discuss contraception, because it was deemed she was “unqualified.”  This determination was made, of course, by a man.  So, Ms. Fluke gave her testimony to an unofficial group of politicians, and Mr. Limbaugh jumped right into the fray.

Because Ms. Fluke thinks contraception is basic heath care for women, and feels that it should be covered by insurance, Mr. Limbaugh has declared that she is a “slut and a prostitute.”  He has also said that “she wants to be paid to have sex.”  I’m completely confused as to how he came to believe that.  He seems to think that she wants taxpayers to pay for contraception, when what she was requesting was that insurance cover contraception.  His next comment was that “if she wants us to pay for her birth control pills, we want something in return.  We want her to put the video of her having sex on the Internet so we can all enjoy it.”  Makes you wonder what kind of porn collection Mr. Limbaugh might have, doesn’t it?

And the great Mr. Limbaugh doesn’t have a clue how the pill works.  He has said for three days that Ms. Fluke and Georgetown coeds “are having SO MUCH SEX they can’t afford all their birth control pills.”  Here’s a biology lesson for you, Mr. Limbaugh – women on the pill take one pill each day of the month, whether they are going to have sex or not.  They don’t take one pill for each sexual experience.  If they are going to have sex fifty times in one day, they just take ONE PILL.  If they aren’t going to have sex that day, they still take a pill.

Now, some people don’t understand how expensive the pill is.  The average American woman spends 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy.  The pill is the most commonly used and most effective form of birth control.  Without insurance coverage, a woman would spend $67,000 over those 30 years, on birth control pills.  That’s a hugh expense that occurs month after month after month, when you are trying to feed and clothe your children, buy a home for them, or save for their college education.  Low-income women can go to Planned Parenthood for their birth control pills, but remember, the Republicans are trying to defund Plannd Parenthood.

Republicans are suggesting that insurance coverage should not include contraception.  Think about it….you pay a monthly premium for your medical insurance….your medical insurance coverage prescription drugs….birth control pills are prescription drugs.  What could possibly be wrong about expecting your insurance to cover your birth control?  After all, it is a basic health care need for women of reproductive age.  Insurances cover that little blue magic pill (Viagra) that men love so much.  See the lack of logic here?  Cover the pill that helps men function sexually, but don’t cover the pill that helps the women they have sex with prevent pregnancy.

Fortunately, Mr. Limbaugh is not in an elected position.  But it’s downright scary that men such as he are out there spouting their hatred of woman, and they don’t understand how the pill works.  By the way, Mr. Limbaugh recently married for the FOURTH time.  He is 59 years old.  His wife is half his age.  Which puts her right in the midst of her reproductive years.  Funny how Mr. Limbaugh is on his fourth marriage, but has no children.  Is he impotent?  Is he sterile?  Is that why he hates women so much?  Or have all of his wives been “SLUTS AND PROSTITUTES” who used birth control?

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney, who would like to be President, seems to have the same misunderstanding of how the pill works that Mr. Limbaugh has.  Mr. Romney has said that if he were President, he would sign an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, declaring a fertilized egg to be a person.  That would effectively eliminate hormonal birth control (IUDs and the pill) because they don’t prevent fertilization, they prevent the fertilized egg from implanting itself in the lining of the uterus.

At a recent speech, a young woman in the audience asked Mr. Romney if he believed a fertilized egg was a person.  He responded that he did.  She then asked why he was against birth control, and he said he wasn’t.  You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Romney.  Learn how birth control pills work before you go making executive decisions that affect approximately 62 MILLION AMERICAN WOMEN.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, that’s how many American women are in their reproductive years right now.

So, women of America…..do you feel like a slut and a prostitute because you have used contraception?  Mr. Limbaugh thinks you are.  And Mr. Romney, who would like to be your President, doesn’t have a clue how the pill works.  Scary, isn’t it?


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