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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Annual Young Holiday Bazaar comes with wine

Enjoy a fun day in scenic Young, Arizona, with holiday shopping too!

On Dec. 2-4, Braswell's Chuckwagon in the heart of Young will host its annual Community Holiday Bazaar featuring handcrafted gifts, delectable homemade goodies, and fabulous handmade quilts, quilting materials, supplies, and helpful expertise.

Across the road, Pleasant Valley Winery's little log cabin wine shop will be open for wine tasting on Saturday, Dec. 3 from Noon-5 p.m. Please try a taste of our holiday special treat, mulled Honey Mead Wine and get the free recipe too.  Bottled wines and wine glasses are available for sale.

Young's annual Community Holiday Bazaar is always a great event for the whole family. Please join us this year for a fun pre-Christmas outing in beautiful Young.

Longhorn Theatre proudly presents

A MUSICAL THEATRE SHOWCASE

A variety of scenes, songs and dances from popular American Musical Theatre

One night only

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

7:00 pm

PHS Auditorium

Admission by donation

We suggest $3 per person.
The Payson campus of Gila Community College will hold its 4th Annual Art Show and Sale on Friday, Dec. 2.

Student art work from Stained Glass, Drawing, Digital Photography, Photoshop, Watercolor, Oil Painting, Printmaking, Ceramics, Paper Crafts, Folk Art, Jewelry, Sculpture, and Quilted Clothing will be on display.

The show will run from 5-7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Payson Choral Society Christmas concert Dec. 17

Mark your calendars now! The Payson Choral Society’s Christmas concert “BELIEVE” directed by Daria Mason with accompaniment by Victoria Harris comes to the Payson High School auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 17. Performances are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Please note this is a change in performance times from last year’s concert.

Concert tickets are $10 at the door for adults, and $8 advance sale. Children and students up to age 18 are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased in advance from Choral Society members, The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, and at the library. Tickets will also be available at the door before each concert.

Proceeds from the concerts provide musical scholarships to middle school and high school students. These are awarded each year at the Spring concert.

For added information call John Landino 928-468-0023

TCCA TONIGHT: 'Chaplin - A Life in Concert'

NASHVILLE, TN – (November 29, 2011) – Multi-platinum singer/songwriter David Pomeranz will perform his one-man, theatrical-musical tribute to Charlie Chaplin at the Payson High School Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.

Part theater, part concert - David Pomeranz fully reveals his considerable writing and composing skills in the creation of “Chaplin - A Life in Concert.” The show dramatizes the life story of the brilliant yet controversial career of Charlie Chaplin.

On stage, the role demands that Mr. Pomeranz portrays more than 25 personalities and that he accompanies himself on the piano. David’s songwriting career includes 22 platinum and 18 gold records including Barry Manilow’s hit single, “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again,” as well as original songs for major motion pictures and hit television shows.

Previous musical theater credits include “Time,” starring Cliff Richard and Sir Laurence Olivier in London (2008), “Under the Bridge” in collaboration with Kathie Lee Gifford in New York (2007), and “Saving Aimee,” opening at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in October of 2011.

“…touching, clever, theatrical, wonderful.” -- Michael Feinstein

Single tickets are $35. Children and youth, grade 12 and under, will be admitted free when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. For more information visit the association website at www.tccarim.org or call 928-478-4363 or 928-474-4189. To view a promotional video of this artist, please follow this link:
http://www.youtube.com/liveonstageinc2011#p/u/24/C4iGOHbwViE 

The Tonto Community Concert Association is committed to bringing high quality entertainment to the Rim Country through an annual concert series and support of the fine arts in Payson schools. This series is intended as an enriching cultural experience for the people of Payson and those in surrounding communities.

Live On Stage, Inc. provides acclaimed, affordable entertainment attractions and support services to an American community of concert presenters. For more information, visit www.LiveOnStage.biz.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

America has become a fascist state

Reader Supported News 
PERSPECTIVE 
 
By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News

26 November 11 - George Orwell's "1984" wasn't meant to be an instruction manual.

One word that emerged from the novel was the word "doublespeak," where truth is deliberately obfuscated through clever wording. In some cases, the meaning of a word is reversed entirely. Oceania, the totalitarian regime in Orwell's book, used doublespeak as a matter of course. The Ministry of Truth specialized in propaganda. The Ministry of Love was a secretive torture complex.

In the early years of public school, or in public addresses by politicians, America is touted as the Land of the Free, or the Land of Opportunity, or the Greatest Country on Earth. We're taught from near-infancy that this country was founded on the right to say what you want, whenever, wherever, to whomever. We're told we have the freedom to assemble peacefully, to petition our leaders for a redress of grievances. We're taught that if you're apprehended by the law, you have the right to a fair trial and legal representation.

Yet, today we live in a country where government aids the corporate takeover of elections. Here, banks who fraudulently took Americans' homes for profit can get bailed out by the taxpayers, and use the money to pay themselves 12-figure bonuses. This is a country where even US citizens can be detained without due process, tortured, and even assassinated overseas.

Today, in the Land of the Free, nonviolent political protesters using their First Amendment rights to speak out against all of the above can be beaten, tasered, and maced by heavily-militarized police forces, using military-grade equipment, without any provocation.

•Students sitting down in the quad at UC Davis were covered with military-grade pepper spray, before cops in riot gear knelt on them and sprayed indiscriminately down student's throats according to Professor Nathan Brown of UC Davis.

•At UC Berkeley, Robert Hass, a former poet laureate, was clubbed by police while nonviolently protesting with students.

•In Seattle, cops clad in riot gear pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman and an expectant mother.

•In Oakland, veterans who served overseas to allegedly protect the rights we hold dear come home and get aggressively beaten without warning, and shot in the face with tear-gas canisters. Oakland police even threw a flash-bang grenade at people rushing to give medical attention to the wounded vet.

The recent Black Friday mobs of consumers pitching tents in parking lots and rioting over $2 waffle irons were met with silence from the police. Yet, 10 people speaking out in a Wal-Mart about the company's CEO making $19,000 per hour while his employees are forced to work on a holiday for less than poverty-level wages apparently provokes police to tackle and arrest the citizens nonviolently encouraging shoppers to buy local. In today's America we can Occupy for Capitalism, but not for Democracy.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has openly admitted that the recent police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street solidarity encampments were the result of careful coordination between mayors on a series of conference calls. There are also reports that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI gave advice on the crackdowns, encouraging municipalities to deploy large numbers of police, equip them with riot gear, and break up encampments when the media were least likely to be present. Reports from New York allege that reporters were asked to raise their hand if they had press credentials, before being penned in an area far from the protests. Those trying to get through were arrested, and told that it was illegal to "take pictures on the sidewalk."

It is no longer extreme to say we now live in a fascist police state. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the SCOTUS' Citizens United decision, and a complacent electorate, our First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly now only exist on paper. In Tienanmen Square, the Chinese government also censored the press and violently cracked down on peaceful protesters. All that's missing here are the tanks.

Mussolini said, "Fascism should be more accurately called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power." It is Orwellian doublespeak to call this country "free" while freedom is actively suppressed with aid from a corporate-owned government. The people are not free if their leaders are actively making war with them.

Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at carl@rsnorg.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Annual Occupy Thanksgiving Celebration

   Reader Supported News
     Perspective     

By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News
readersupportednews.org

25 November 11 - I arrived at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, just after midnight on Thanksgiving Day, where most were already asleep in their tents. I made my way to the info table where two volunteers were there to welcome me. They showed me to my tent, which was provided by a kind woman named Crystal who was home visiting her family for Thanksgiving.

I decided to head to McPherson Square to check out the Occupy K Street encampment before calling it a night. It was much livelier, the protesters are younger there and they are located near some hip DC nightclubs.

I finally settled into my tent around 3 am and got a few hours sleep. I awoke to a busy park; there was a charity run for hunger relief in the area. The real heroes of the day were busy in the kitchen making breakfast and preparing to cook the Thanksgiving meal for the Freedom Plaza community.

The kitchen, led by Tom, is very organized. Everyone was pitching in with cleanup and unloading donations from members of the community. The cooks were fantastic, Tom and his crew pulled out all the stops. One of the highlights of the meal for me was the mac and cheese, too bad Pat Robertson wasn't around to try some.

There was shrimp wrapped in bacon along with all the usual trimmings. There were four turkeys, three were donated already cooked, and one was a masterpiece that was deep-fried on-site by Tom. Many of those in the camp came down from New York or other encampments, and I heard many touting this as the best kitchen among all of the Occupies.

For me, this was the first Thanksgiving in years that I felt like I was at home. Home, to me, is living in a community of people working for change. That spirit was present in Freedom Plaza this Thanksgiving. Following the meal a makeshift theatre was set up and Occupiers watched movies.

I will be embedded in Freedom Plaza for the next week before moving on to Zuccotti Park where 5,000 people were served a Thanksgiving meal. I will be reporting from Occupy encampments for the next few months. Tonight I am thankful that I am part of a community that is working to improve the lives of millions of people around the world. And we at Reader Supported News are thankful for the support you have shown us.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Scott Galindez is the Political Director of Reader Supported News, and the co-founder of Truthout.

How to live in the real world this Christmas

By Tawra Kellam
Gazette Contributor

Less is More this Christmas!

After laying down my last women’s magazine telling me how to be less stressed during the holidays, I’m even more confused and stressed then ever. On one page I’m told to take time for myself and indulge in a lovely spa bath. As I turn the page, I’m told to give all my friends and family homemade ornaments. Then there are articles telling me how not to gain weight at Christmas parties. Isn’t that like telling a three year old to not get dirty while making mud pies?

To top it all off (and the part I like the best) is after they tell us how to get rid of stress and not gain weight, they give us 10 pages of recipes for Christmas cookies made with real butter and cream that are decorated so elaborately in the pictures that it probably took a trained kitchen staff of 10 a week to make one cookie.

Doesn’t anyone live in the real world any more? If you are like me and can’t stand that kind of stress, try some of these Christmas ideas from www.LivingOnADime.com to help you have a relaxed and Merry Christmas.

Don’t over-spend – It may be tempting to fixate yourself on the sparkling look in little Johnny’s eye when he sees that $300 play car under the tree. Advertising people are really good at feeding many parents’ fantasies of their children thinking that mom and dad are the peaches and cream for shelling out the cash and looking fondly back on the moment for the rest of their lives. In reality, most kids have lost all interest in that particular toy long before the credit cards are paid off.

When we were growing up, my mom pulled out all of the stops at Christmas to make it as wonderful for us as she possibly could. The funny thing is that now that we are grown, the things we remember the most fondly are Mom’s red jello salad (made with red hots – yummy!) and sitting together and reading the Christmas story before opening our presents. I can’t remember what presents I received, but I always look back fondly on the Christmas story.

Do a few things well – Instead of trying to do everything and ending up depressed with how it all turns out, focus your energy on a couple of things that are the most important to you. You may be tempted to extravagantly decorate every room in your house, but if you don’t have the time or energy, focus on one room, like a living or family room. If your entire house is beautiful but you have to go see a therapist when it’s all over, the romantic mystique will be lost. Trust me, I know about this one from personal experience.

Limit activities – Think of the holiday season as triage for activities. Don’t commit to do too many things. One or two parties during the holiday season will make you get all tingly in that “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of way. One or two parties a week may send you over the edge, especially if you have kids. (Refer to my therapist comments above.)

This also applies to all of those appealing looking activities around town like Victorian Christmas events, Christmas celebrations at the zoo or winter carnivals. One or two can be a lot of fun, but too many will ruin the fun.

Limit cookie baking- Don’t try to make 15 different kinds of cookies like Martha. She may look like she is super woman, but did you know she has a lot of people that help her? How much help do you get with your baking? I mean real help, not your five year old who makes everything twice as difficult for you. This is great for grandma, but you have to see your daughter every day and grandma can send her back when the house is sufficiently covered in flour. Again, pick your two or three top favorite cookies to bake and ce lebrate the fact that you had few enough priorities that you remembered to put the sugar in them.

Everything doesn’t have to be homemade. I know that we advocate making your own stuff, but Marie Callendar’s makes some great pies that you can pass off as homemade if you want to soothe your guilty Martha Stewart conscience. In 20 years, your kids will look fondly back on it as the best pie they ever had. But seriously, if you are making things homemade just to save money, remember that some things like candies and pies are often more expensive to make homemade, especially if you cut your finger while slicing the apples. Don’t ask me how I know, just trust me on this one.

These aren’t the only things you can do to reduce your stress, but if you stick to doing a few things well, you can truly relax and enjoy the season with your family. In the end, they would rather have fond memories of their time with you than memories of how strun g out mom was after she burned the cookies.

Tawra Kellam is the publisher of the website www.LivingOnADime.com and the author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook.

Friday, November 25, 2011

ROBERT REICH: Why we must Occupy Democracy

By Robert Reich
Reader Supported News
readersupportednews.org
 

You've been seeing this across the country … Americans assaulted, clubbed, dragged, pepper-sprayed … Why? For exercising their right to free speech and assembly - protesting the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

And what's Washington's response? Nothing. In fact, Congress's so-called "supercommittee" just disbanded because Republicans refuse to raise a penny of taxes on the rich.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court says money is speech and corporations are people. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision last year ended all limits on political spending. Millions of dollars are being funneled to politicians without a trace.

And a revolving door has developed between official Washington and Wall Street - with bank executives becoming public officials who make rules that benefit the banks before heading back to the Street to make money off the rules they created.

Other top officials, including an increasing proportion of former members of congress, are cashing in by joining lobbying power houses and pressuring their former colleagues to do whatever their clients want.

Millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street and in executive suites aren't contributing all this money out of sheer love of country. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Why else do you suppose tax rates on the super rich are now lower than they've been in three decades, and why - even though the long-term budget deficit is horrendous - those rates aren't rising? Why else do the 400 richest Americans (whose wealth is larger than the combined wealth of the bottom 150 million Americans) now pay an average tax rate of only 17 percent?

Why do you think Wall Street got bailed without a single string attached - not even being required to help homeowners to whom they sold mortgages, who are now so far under water they're drowning? And why does the financial reform legislation have loopholes big enough for bankers to drive their Ferrari's through?

And why else are oil companies, big agribusinesses, military contractors, and the pharmaceutical industry reaping billions of dollars of government subsidies and special tax breaks?

Experts say the 2012 presidential race is likely to be the priciest ever, costing an estimated $6 billion. "It is far worse than it has ever been," says Republican Senator John McCain.

If there's a single core message to the Occupier movement it's that the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top endangers our democracy. With money comes political power.

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they're told the First Amendment doesn't apply. Instead, they're treated as public nuisances - clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities - where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct - peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray.

The First Amendment is being stood on its head. Money speaks, and an unlimited amount of it can now be spent bribing and cajoling politicians. Yet peaceful assembly is viewed as a public nuisance and removed by force.

This is especially worrisome now that so many Americans are in economic trouble. The jobs recession grinds on, seemingly without end. Homes are being foreclosed upon. Qualified students cannot afford college. Or they're forced to take on huge debt loads they can't repay in a jobless economy. Schools are firing teachers. Vital social services are being axed.

How are Americans to be heard about what should be done about any of this if they are not allowed to mobilize and organize? When the freedom of speech goes to the highest bidder, moneyed interests have a disproportionate say.

Now more than ever, the First Amendment needs to be put right side up. Nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With Black Friday looming, AG offers shopping tips

PHOENIX (Tuesday, November 22, 2011) -- With the first big day of the holiday shopping season coming on “Black Friday,” Nov. 25, followed by “Cyber Monday” on Nov. 28, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne today offered his top tips for holiday shoppers.


Attorney General Tom Horne’s Top Tips for Holiday Shopping



(1) Bring ads for sales and “special deals” with you to the store.

Advertising a set of sales or “deals” and refusing to honor the terms of the advertisement is deceptive advertising and illegal in Arizona. Consumers using holiday sales and coupons should be careful that the specials advertised match what is advertised in stores.

Consider bringing ads with you to the store to see if prices charged match advertised prices. Read all fine print or disclosures before making your purchase. When checking out, watch the cash register display to be sure the scanned price matches the advertised or posted price. Check your receipt for accuracy before leaving the store. If you have pricing questions, ask to see the store’s pricing error policy.

(2) Understand the new rules for gift cards.

Gift cards issued by merchants (single or group, i.e. chain stores) and those issued by financial institutions (many with Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover brand logos) will have to follow new guidelines recently set up by Congress. Under the Credit Card Act of 2009, limitations have been placed on fees and expiration dates for gift cards. Service fees can no longer be charged until the card has been inactive for 12 months and only after that time can one fee be charged per month. Fee details and terms need to be disclosed clearly and conspicuously prior to purchase. Also, gift cards now carry an expiration date of at least 5 years from the date of purchase or the date the card was last reloaded with funds. Make sure you understand any terms or details disclosed about any fee or expiration date prior to purchasing your gift card.

(3) Do online shopping at secure Web sites.

Using secure Web sites will help ensure that personal information, such as your name, address and credit card number, is transmitted to the merchant safely, without being intercepted by a third party. You can identify secure Web sites by looking for Web addresses that begin with “https” and check for a small padlock icon at the bottom of the page. Also look for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates which allow for safe browsing and purchasing (“VeriSign” is a commonly used SSL). Credit cards are still preferred over debit cards for online shopping security.

(4) Watch out for restocking fees.

Certain stores will charge you a percentage of the price for “restocking” an item that you return for refund or credit. These fees most often apply to larger purchases such as furniture, electronic equipment or appliances. If a business charges a restocking fee, it should disclose the fee in print advertising and promotional materials as well as post a clearly visible notice disclosing the fee and how consumers can obtain the full restocking fee policy. Before making a purchase, ask if the store charges a restocking fee. If so, make sure you understand the full cost and restocking policy.

(5) Save all receipts, warranties and service agreements.

Keeping printed copies of receipts, warranties and service agreements helps you negotiate any refunds or exchanges should you have a problem or decide to return the product.
During the time of purchase, request warranties and service contracts in writing and save receipts from all of your purchases. Bring them with you if you need a refund, exchange or repair.

(6) Be cautious of toys bought for children.

Make sure you read all labels and fine print on packages of toys purchased for children. Many toys are meant for children of certain ages and may contain small pieces hazardous to very young children. Also, to verify that the toy you have bought is safe, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission, http://www.cpsc.gov for more information.

(7) Travel safe this holiday season.

As you are booking your travel to see family this holiday season, take caution when booking through agents and online Web sites. Make sure you are working with a legitimate travel agent and remember, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. It never hurts to take extra time researching a company or business online before using their service. Major airlines and travel companies often offer coupons and discounts while traveling over the holidays – be mindful of the small print and details regarding when purchase needs to be made and when travel dates are valid.

(8) Seasonal Employment Opportunities.

Many consumers seek seasonal employment to earn more cash during the holiday season. Be mindful of the employer you seek work from and make sure you are familiar with the company and its seasonal employment policies. Use caution when seeking employment from online job boards. Online employment boards may display employment opportunities that do not exist only as a means to obtain information from potential candidates. Use caution when providing identifying information over the internet and research companies that may not be familiar to you. Most job boards, such as Craigslist, allow users to report advertisements that are bogus are fraudulent.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763; in Tucson at 520.628.6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site, www.azag.gov. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting http://www.azag.gov/consumer/complaintform.html.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Loeffler responds to biased Roundup editorial


  TIME TO PLAY FAIR  

(Editor's note: The following was also submitted to the Payson Roundup, which played its usual "this is too long" game.  Loeffler has now submitted a shorter version to the Roundup.  The question: will the Roundup, which is and always has been clearly biased in favor of whatever Payson Mayor Kenny Evans says or wants, run the shorter version?  The Gazette Blog implores them to be fair for a change.) 

By Tom Loeffler
GCC Governing Board Member

In this somewhat charged atmosphere I would like to try to set the record straight on the Gila Community College Campus land transfer. The State of Arizona, several years back, deeded over to Gila County about 54 acres to be use for the future campus of a community college. At a later date the Gila Community College District was formed as well as a governing board to oversee the community college which has been in existence for several years.

In a Nov. 15 editorial the Payson Roundup told the GCC Governing Board, an elected body by the taxpayers, to “GET OUT THE WAY” and let a small group representing private investors determine how part of our campus is to be used. In other words, a private group would take the responsibility away from the elected Governing Board to decide the future of taxpayer land. The taxpayers’ opinions would therefore not be represented in this land transfer. Does that sound like Democracy to you? What was the Roundup drinking?

At a special meeting to discuss the situation, the GCC Governing Board voted unanimously, yes unanimously, to support the position of a four year university in Payson and to transfer a portion of the campus land for that purpose only. The operative word being for the four year university. The Governing Board voted to restrict the land deed to allow only “educational endeavors” be built on the land and not to be used for any "industrial purposes” If the intent of the Separate Legal Entity (SLE) is to only build such buildings as classrooms, dorms and a cafeteria on the land, then there should not be a problem with the deed restrictions for educational buildings only.

To have the elected board of the community college just hand over (transfer) campus land without anything in writing and without any restrictions would be irresponsible on their part. With nothing in writing, anything could be built on the land once it was sold. We desire to have a campus that is suited for educational pursuits and not be next to an industrial park or something. The fact that the SLE is opposing the education only restriction makes one think of the famous line, “Methinks they protest too much.”

The County Board, who is the sell agent in this situation, has turned over about 32 of the 54 acres to the community college, about 5 acres less than the GCC Board’s resolution. How does that translate? Your Community College will get 32 acres for the potential 4,000 to 6,000 students when the town buildout is complete. The SLE will get 22 acres for the 1,000 students they plan to build for in phase one.

One reason the County Board gave for this division was that some residents of Graham Ranch Road wanted their road to extend to the highway and that there was already an easement on the campus for such. Town records do not show any road easement and neither the community college nor the SLE is in favor of such a road going through their campuses.

Remember what was said at the beginning of this article: the State turned over this land for a Gila Community College. The County Board and the GCC Governing Board have both voted to support the four year university in Payson. The GCC Board has asked for deed restrictions on the portion of land to be sold. The County Board’s Dec. 6 board meeting will decide the final disposition of this land. Taxpayers have one more opportunity to voice their views. This land transfer can and should be accomplished for the mutual benefit of all and needs to be done in an open transparent manner.

No highway closures over Thanksgiving weekend

PHOENIX – If your Thanksgiving plans include a trip on the state’s highways, the Arizona Department of Transportation wants you to know that no construction closures will be scheduled over the holiday weekend, beginning Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 23).

ADOT still encourages drivers to allow extra travel time during peak holiday travel periods and to use extra caution in existing work zones along state highways.

Driving behavior will be a key factor in efforts to reduce tragic crashes during the holiday travel season. Thirteen people were killed in a total of 12 fatal crashes on Arizona’s highways and local roads during Thanksgiving weekend last year.

Drivers are urged to make sure they buckle up, along with their passengers. ADOT and other safety agencies also ask drivers to obey speed limits, get adequate rest before traveling, avoid distractions and never drink and drive.

Although no construction closures are scheduled over the holiday weekend, existing state highway work zones include:

■ Yuma, San Diego, Rocky Point Travel: State Route 85 is narrowed to one lane in both directions for an existing B-8 (Butterfield Trail Road) bridge work zone in Gila Bend. Drivers traveling to or from Yuma or San Diego can consider alternate routes during peak travel times, including Interstate 10 and US 95 north of Yuma. Drivers traveling to or from the Phoenix area also can consider using I-8 and I-10 through the Casa Grande area. For more visit www.azdot.gov/HolidayTravel.

■ Flagstaff, Northern Arizona Travel: Interstate 17 narrowed to one lane in each direction approximately 20 miles south of Flagstaff for an existing bridge reconstruction work zone at Munds Park. Allow extra time during peak travel periods.

■ Kingman, Las Vegas Travel: US 93 open with no passing zone and reduced 55 mph speed limit along a seven-mile-long stretch for a widening project north of Wikieup. Use caution and allow extra travel time.

■ Phoenix – Tucson Travel: Interstate 10 widening work zones are in place in the Casa Grande area and between Ruthrauff and Prince Roads in Tucson. Use caution and obey reduced speed limits in existing work zones.

Drivers also are urged to be prepared for unscheduled highway closures due to accidents, disabled vehicles or other events. Motorists should be alert to changing weather conditions while traveling.

Portion of Fossil Creek Road closed for winter

Payson, Ariz. (November 18, 2011) – Tonto National Forest officials announced today that a portion of Fossil Creek Road (Forest Service Road 708) is temporarily closed for the winter.

The road is closed from 1/2 mile west of the Fossil Creek entrance to the Upper Fossil Springs Trailhead extending west and down canyon to immediately east of the Waterfall Trailhead (old Flume Trail Trailhead).

“It is anticipated that this temporary closure will be in effect until around mid-April to provide for public and employee safety due to repeat unsafe road conditions resulting from winter storm activity,” said Angie Elam, district ranger.

For further information, please contact the Payson Ranger District administrative office at 928-474-7900. The closure order is available on the Tonto National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto.

Young's Holiday Bazaar includes wine tasting

Jim and Marie Petroff own Pleasant Valley Winery 

Take a beautiful mountain drive to scenic Young, Arizona for a fun day with holiday shopping too.

On December 2-4, Braswell's Chuckwagon in the heart of Young will host its annual Community Holiday Bazaar featuring handcrafted gifts, delectable homemade goodies, and fabulous handmade quilts, quilting materials, supplies, and helpful expertise.

Across the road, Pleasant Valley Winery's little log cabin wine shop will be open for wine tasting on Saturday, December 3rd from Noon-5:00 p.m. Please try a taste of our holiday special treat, mulled Honey Mead Wine and get the free recipe too - You will love it :-) Bottled wines and wine glasses are available for sale. Pleasant Valley wines are available anytime in Young and from the Beverage Place in Payson and in Globe.

Young's annual Community Holiday Bazaar is always a great event for the whole family. Please join us this year for a fun pre-Christmas outing in beautiful Young.

Monday, November 21, 2011

PUBLIC NOTICE
GILA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ELECTIONS
SUBMISSIONS TO THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FOR PRECLEARANCE UNDER SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Gila County Department of Elections has submitted the following requests for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act:

Gila County Supervisorial Redistricting Plan
Gila County Community College Redistricting Plan
Gila County Precinct Boundary and Polling Place Change Plan

Submission materials are available for public review at the Gila County Department of Elections, 5515 S Apache Ave, Globe, AZ 85501, or at the Gila County Administration Building, 610 E Hwy 260, Payson, AZ 85541.

Questions or comments may be directed to the Gila County Department of Elections, 928.402.8709. Citizens may also contact the Department of Elections for Apache or Spanish translation assistance.

Dated at Globe, Gila County, AZ this 28th day of November, 2011

/s/ Linda V. Eastlick
Director, Gila County Department of Elections.

AVISO PÚBLICO:
El DEPARTAMENTO ELECTORAL DEL CONDADO DE GILA SOLICITA AUTORIZACIÓN
PRELIMINAR AL DEPARTAMENTO DE JUSTICIA DE LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS
EN VIRTUD DEL ARTÍCULO 5 DE LA LEY DE DERECHOS ELECTORALES

POR ESTE MEDIO SE NOTIFICA que, en virtud del Artículo 5 de la Ley de Derechos Electorales, el Departamento Electoral del Condado de Gila ha solicitado autorización preliminar de:

Plan de Redistribución de Distritos de Supervisores del Condado de Gila
Plan de Redistribución de Distritos del Colegio Comunitario del Condado de Gila
Plan de Cambios a los Límites de Recintos Electorales y Lugares de Votación

Los informes referidos están disponibles para revisión del público en el Departamento Electoral del Condado de Gila, 5515 S Apache Ave., Globe, AZ 85501 y en el Edificio Administrativo del Condado de Gila ubicado en 610 E. Hwy 260, Payson, AZ 85541.

Puede dirigir preguntas y comentarios al teléfono 928.402.8709 del Departamento Electoral del Condado de Gila. Los ciudadanos también pueden solicitar al Departamento Electoral asistencia para interpretar los informes en los idiomas apache y español.

Publicado el 28 de Noviembre de 2011, en Globe, Condado de Gila, Arizona.

/s/ Linda V. Eastlick, Directora
Departamento Electoral del Condado de Gila

'We are the ones we have been waiting for'

PERSPECTIVE:
OCCUPY WALL STREET

The Occupy activists and their supporters have brought us together as the 99%. They call upon the majority to stand up against the minority. The old minorities, in effect, are the new majority. There are major responsibilities attached to this decision to forge such an expansive community of resistance. We say no to Wall Street, to the big banks, to corporate executives making millions of dollars a year. We say no to student debt. We are learning also to say no to global capitalism and to the prison-industrial complex. And even as police in Portland, Oakland and now New York, move to force activists from their encampments, we say no to evictions and to police violence.

Occupy activists are thinking deeply about how we might incorporate opposition to racism, class exploitation, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, violence done to the environment and transphobia into the resistance of the 99%. Of course, we must be prepared to challenge military occupation and war. And if we identify with the 99%, we will also have to learn how to imagine a new world, one where peace is not simply the absence of war, but rather, a creative refashioning of global social relations.

Thus, the most pressing question facing the Occupy activists is how to craft a unity that respects and celebrates the immense differences among the 99%. How can we learn how to come together? This is something those of the 99% who are living at Occupy sites can teach us all. How can we come together in a unity that is not simplistic and oppressive, but complex and emancipatory, recognising, in June Jordan's words that "we are the ones we have been waiting for."

Angela Davis
Political Activist

Sunday, November 20, 2011

UA scientists find evidence of megadrought

Dendrochronologists extract a small, pencil-shaped sample of wood from a tree with a tool called an increment borer. The tiny hole left in the tree's trunk quickly heals as the tree continues to grow. (Copyright: Daniel Griffin/Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research)
Twisting with time, bristlecone pine trees live for thousands of years on high mountain slopes and record each passing year with a new ring of growth. (Photo by Cody Routson)


The second century A.D. saw an extended dry period of more than 100 years characterized by a multi-decade drought lasting nearly 50 years, says a new study from scientists at the University of Arizona.

UA geoscientists Cody Routson, Connie Woodhouse and Jonathan Overpeck conducted a study of the southern San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado. The region serves as a primary watershed for the Rio Grande and San Juan rivers.

"These mountains are very important for both the San Juan River and the Rio Grande River," said Routson, a doctoral candidate in the environmental studies laboratory of the UA's department of geosciences and the primary author of the study, which is upcoming in Geophysical Research Letters.

The San Juan River is a tributary for the Colorado River, meaning any climate changes that affect the San Juan drainage also likely would affect the Colorado River and its watershed. Said Routson: "We wanted to develop as long a record as possible for that region."

Dendrochronology is a science of using annual growth rings of trees to understand climate in the past. Because trees typically add a normally clearly defined growth ring around their trunk each year, counting the rings backwards from a tree's bark allows scientists to determine not only the age of the tree, but which years were good for growth and which years were more difficult.

"If it's a wet year, they grow a wide ring, and if it's a dry year, they grow a narrow ring," said Routson. "If you average that pattern across trees in a region you can develop a chronology that shows what years were drier or wetter for that particular region."

Darker wood, referred to as latewood because it develops in the latter part of the year at the end of the growing season, forms a usually distinct boundary between one ring and the next. The latewood is darker because growth at the end of the growing season has slowed and the cell walls are more dense.

To develop their chronology, the researchers looked for indications of climate in the past in the growth rings of the oldest trees in the southern San Juan region. "We drove around and looked for old trees," said Routson.

Literally nothing is older than a bristlecone pine tree: The oldest and longest-living species on the planet, these pine trees normally are found clinging to bare rocky landscapes of alpine or near-alpine mountain slopes. The trees, the oldest of which are more than 4,000 years old, are capable of withstanding extreme drought conditions.

"We did a lot of hiking and found a couple of sites of bristlecone pines, and one in particular that we honed in on," said Routson.

To sample the trees without damaging them, dendrochronologists use a tool like a metal screw that bores a tiny hole in the trunk of the tree and allows them to extract a sample, called a core. "We take a piece of wood about the size and shape of a pencil from the tree," explained Routson.

"We also sampled dead wood that was lying about the land. We took our samples back to the lab where we used a visual, graphic technique to match where the annual growth patterns of the living trees overlap with the patterns in the dead wood. Once we have the pattern matched we measure the rings and average these values to generate a site chronology."

"In our chronology for the south San Juan mountains we created a record that extends back 2,200 years," said Routson. "It was pretty profound that we were able to get back that far."

The chronology extends many years earlier than the medieval period, during which two major drought events in that region already were known from previous chronologies.

"The medieval period extends roughly from 800 to 1300 A.D.," said Routson. "During that period there was a lot of evidence from previous studies for increased aridity, in particular two major droughts: one in the middle of the 12th century, and one at the end of the 13th century."

"Very few records are long enough to assess the global conditions associated with these two periods of Southwestern aridity," said Routson. "And the available records have uncertainties."

But the chronology from the San Juan bristlecone pines shows an even earlier drought:

"There was another period of increased aridity even earlier," said Routson. "This new record shows that in addition to known droughts from the medieval period, there is also evidence for an earlier megadrought during the second century A.D."

"What we can see from our record is that it was a period of basically 50 consecutive years of below-average growth," said Routson. "And that's within a much broader period that extends from around 124 A.D. to 210 A.D. – about a 100-year-long period of dry conditions."

"We're showing that there are multiple extreme drought events that happened during our past in this region," said Routson. "These megadroughts lasted for decades, which is much longer than our current drought. And the climatic events behind these previous dry periods are really similar to what we're experiencing today."

The prolonged drought in the 12th century and the event in the second century A.D. may both have been influenced by warmer-than-average Northern Hemisphere temperatures, Routson said: "The limited records indicate there may have been similar La Nina-like background conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which are known to influence modern drought, during the two periods."

Although natural climate variation has led to extended dry periods in the southwestern U.S. in the past, there is reason to believe that human-driven climate change will increase the frequency of extreme droughts in the future, said Routson. In other words, we should expect similar multi-decade droughts in a future predicted to be even warmer than the past.

Routson's research is funded by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Science Foundation Arizona and the Climate Assessment of the Southwest. His advisors, Woodhouse of the School of Geography and Development and Overpeck of the department of geosciences and co-director of the UA's Institute of the Environment, are co-authors of the study.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Politicians need to heed four Lessons of Ohio

By Richard Trumka
AFL-CIO President
Reader Supported News
readersupportednews.org 

16 November 11 - Remember Ohio."Those two words should carry new meaning to politicians in Congress and state houses who think they can respond to unemployment, budget crises and voter anger with faux solutions that serve up red meat to their right-wing base.

With their now-famous rejection of a state law limiting public employees' right to bargain collectively, Ohio voters sent this emphatic reminder to Republicans (and some Democrats as well): Cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires, scapegoating working Americans and their unions and downsizing Social Security and Medicare may get you a standing ovation from the 1%, but the voters who decide elections will not be fooled - and you may just get more than you bargained for.

Four lessons to remember from Ohio:

1. 2010 didn't mean what you think.
Challengers in the 2010 mid-term elections benefited from a formidable current for change, but the change voters wanted was a solution to the economy and the jobs crisis - not political maneuvers and overreach. Keep in mind, too, that voter turnout in mid-term elections is unrepresentatively low: Fewer votes were cast to elect John Kasich governor in 2010 than were cast last week to defeat SB5, the anti-worker law pushed forward by the governor and the Republican majority in the state legislature.

Across the board, voters in the Buckeye state said the anti-worker law "was not the kind of change Ohio was looking for in 2010," according to a post-election survey conducted by Hart Research for the AFL-CIO.

Voters, in fact, are more leery than ever of partisan games. Ohio voters said they perceived the law as a political maneuver by Gov. Kasich and state Republicans to weaken labor unions (53%) rather than a genuine effort to make state government more efficient (33%).

Just as Ohioans voted down the anti-worker law, voters in other states rejected right-wing overreach, defeating a Maine law prohibiting a same-day voter registration law that had been in effect for almost 40 years and recalling the state senate president in Arizona, who had championed the state's anti-immigrant law.

2. In 2011 and 2012, fronting for the 1% is a nonstarter.
Remember, 2011 is not 2010, and politics in 2012 will evolve even more. Give credit to the Occupy Wall Street movement (and historic inequality) for redefining the political narrative.

Fifty-six percent of Ohio voters in the Hart survey agreed that Kasich and his allies "are putting the interests of big corporations ahead of average working people."

These attitudes are widely shared by the swing voters who supported President Obama in 2008 but elected Republican governors and US representatives in 2010 - and will decide the presidential and congressional elections in 2012. They're working Americans with modest incomes, moderate views and little patience for policies that aren't fair and don't work.

More than 26 percent of 2010 Kasich voters, in fact, were part of the overall 61 percent majority who rejected the limits on collective bargaining.

This sea change was strongest among voters in the middle of the economic and ideological spectrums. Yes, public employees, union members, Democrats and liberals voted overwhelmingly against the controversial law. But they were joined by definitive majorities of voters from households with no public employee, workers without union representation and independents, as well as 30 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of conservatives.

3. The myth of the pampered public employee has been busted.
The demonization of public employees is neither a strategy nor a solution and the heartland Americans who voted last week to restore rights for public employees understood that. Public employees didn't cause the economic crisis and they're not the enemy. They're our neighbors and our friends, mainstays of the working middle class, and the services they provide - from police and fire protection to education, health care and environmental protection - are essential to the economy and our quality of life.

And yes, taking away the right to bargain collectively in the public sector, which maintains standards at a time when the private sector is running away from them, will lower living standards for everybody.

Voters in the Hart poll said the anti-worker law would have a mainly negative rather than positive impact on the state's middle class. The attack on public employees would be more harmful than helpful to wages and benefits for all Ohio workers, they said (by a 20 point margin), to public safety (by 21 points), to public education (by 14 points) and to jobs and the economy (by 12 points).

4. Working people joined together will win.
Firefighters, teachers and other public employees were joined by plumbers and pilots and all kinds of private-sector employees to win. Worker to worker, neighbor to neighbor, the message spread, and what began as an attempt to divide workers flopped famously. In the end, working people's solidarity was the message.

Lest there be any doubt, voters in Ohio showed that when fundamental rights and livelihoods are targeted, working people will not only defend themselves, but come back stronger. Conversely, when politicians listen to and champion working people, they can win.

The 2011 elections are over, but their lessons are lasting. Rather than pander to economic elites and an ideological fringe, public officials and office-seekers who want to be winners this time next year should support public policies for the 99 percent - policies that create jobs, invest in America's future, safeguard Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and promote fiscal sanity at the federal and state levels by requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

At a time of near-double-digit unemployment and growing concerns about economic insecurity and inequality, the overwhelming majority of Americans are seeking solutions, not scapegoats.

It's time for politicians to listen.

Occupiers occupied: Highjacking 1st Amendment

Occupy Wall Street:
Take the Bull by the Horns
By Robert Reich
Robert Reich's Blog
readersupportednews.org

16 November 11 - A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they're treated as public nuisances and evicted.

First things first. The Supreme Court's rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats.

Such millionaires and billionaires aren't contributing their money out of sheer love of country. They have a more self-interested motive. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Wall Street is punishing Democrats for enacting the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (weak as it is) by shifting its money to Republicans. The Koch brothers' petrochemical empire has financed, among many other things, candidates who will vote against environmental protection.

This tsunami of big money into politics is the real public nuisance. It's making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us don't have the dough to break through. By granting First Amendment rights to money and corporations, the First Amendment rights of the rest of us are being trampled on.

This is where the Occupiers come in. If there's a core message to the Occupier movement it's that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy.

Yet when Occupiers seek to make their voices heard - in one of the few ways average people can still be heard - they're told their First Amendment rights are limited.

The New York State Court of Appeals along with many mayors and other officials say Occupiers can picket - but they can't encamp. Yet it's the encampments themselves that have drawn media attention (along with the police efforts to remove them).

A bunch of people carrying pickets isn't news. When it comes to making views known, picketing is no competition for big money.

Yet if Occupiers now shift tactics from passive resistance to violence, it would spell the end of the movement. The vast American middle class that now empathizes with the Occupiers would promptly desert them.

But there's another alternative. If Occupiers are expelled from specific geographic locations the Occupier movement can shift to broad-based organizing around the simple idea at the core of the movement: It's time to occupy our democracy.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Poll: Most Arizonans support nonpartisan primary

By JOANNE INGRAM
Cronkite News Service


PHOENIX – More than half of Arizonans support switching from partisan primaries to a nonpartisan ballot that would send the highest-polling candidates on to the general election regardless of party affiliation, according to a poll released Monday by a public policy research group.

Bruce Merrill, poll director and senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the results show that Arizonans are ready for a change.

“It’s an attempt really to get away from the overrepresentation of ideologues in the Legislature,” Merrill said in a phone interview.

The poll found that 58 percent of Arizonans favor such a system, while 33 percent oppose it and 9 percent are uncertain.

Under Arizona’s current system, Democrats and Republicans vote in their own party’s primary and independent voters must choose a party’s ballot if they want to participate.

Merrill said that because few Arizonans vote in primaries the most extreme candidates from either side often move forward to the general election.

“What people don’t realize is the majority of all of the electoral outcomes are determined in primary elections,” he said.

The poll of 600 Arizonans was conducted from Oct. 4-11. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed live in Maricopa County, 17 percent in Pima County and 24 percent in other counties. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A group calling itself the Open Government Committee wants Arizonans to decide whether to switch to what often is referred to as an open primary, meaning the top two vote-getters would move forward in a runoff election if neither receive the majority vote.

Paul Johnson, former Phoenix mayor and the group’s chairman, said this poll mirrors feedback he’s heard consistently on changing the system.

“I’m pleased to see Bruce Merrill’s poll confirm what we already know,” he said in a phone interview.

Johnson’s group recently filed an initiative called the Open Elections/Open Government Act. It needs 259,213 signatures by July 5 to make the November 2012 ballot.

Similar systems have been in place in Louisiana since 1975 and in Washington state since 2008, and California voters approved an open primary measure in 2010.

Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said the party doesn’t take an official position on open primaries, adding that whether such a system would work in Arizona “remains to be seen.”

A message left with the Arizona Republican Party wasn’t returned by late Monday afternoon.
 

Other findings:
• Women were more supportive of a nonpartisan primary than men, with 64 percent saying they would stand behind the system, compared with 49 percent of men.
• Among Republicans, 58 percent supported nonpartisan primaries, 37 percent were opposed and 5 percent weren’t sure.
• Among Democrats, 52 percent favored the idea, 36 percent opposed it and 12 percent weren’t sure.
• Among independent voters, 67 percent favored the idea, 27 percent opposed it and 6 percent weren’t sure.

Rumors of large Medicare increases way false

By David Sayen
Gazette Contributor

You may have heard rumors lately that Medicare Part B premiums are shooting up – by as much as 200 percent.

Those rumors are completely false, I’m happy to say.

In fact, for most people with Medicare, the Part B premium will rise by $3.50 per month in 2012. That means the total monthly premium will be $99.90.

Medicare is divided into four parts, A, B, C, and D. Part A pays for hospital inpatient care, skilled nursing care, hospice, and some home health care.

Part B pays for doctor services, outpatient care, and some other types of home health.

Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, finances managed care plans, like HMOs and PPOs, operated by private companies approved by Medicare. And Part D is the Medicare prescription drug program.

Only about 1 percent of people with Medicare pay Part A premiums, since they paid enough in Medicare taxes over their working lives to qualify for premium-free Part A. We expect Part C premiums to be 4 percent lower, on average, next year. And Part D premiums will be about the same next year as this year.

People with Medicare pay 25 percent of their Part B premiums; the government picks up the rest. The actual amount of the premium is set each year based on expected care costs for all Medicare beneficiaries.

The “standard” Part B premium of $96.40 – the amount paid by most beneficiaries – had stayed the same since 2008, under a law that prohibits increases in Part B premiums in years in which there’s no cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments.

But retired workers will receive an average of $43 more each month in their Social Security checks next year. That will more than offset the $3.50 per month rise in standard Part B premiums.

The Part B deductible for 2012 will be $140, a decrease of $22 from this year.

The Part A deductible paid by beneficiaries when admitted as a hospital inpatient will be $1,156 in 2012, an increase of $24 from this year's $1,132. This change is well below increases in previous years and general inflation.

******

I also want to remind everyone with Medicare that the end of open enrollment season is drawing near. The deadline for choosing a new Medicare health or prescription drug plan is Dec. 7.

People with Medicare should check their current plans to make sure they’re still a good fit. Can you still afford the premiums? Does your plan still cover the medical services and drugs you need?

If you’d like help sorting through all the choices, take a look at the “Medicare & You” handbook that was mailed to you recently. It lists all the health and drug plans that offer coverage in your area.

You also may want to check out Medicare’s online Plan Finder tool at www.Medicare.gov. Among other things, Plan Finder lets you enter the names of the medications you’re taking and find a plan that covers most or all of them.

Beginning this year, Plan Finder also rates Medicare Advantage plans according to our Five-Star Rating System. A gold icon indicates plans that received five stars, the highest rating for quality of care and customer service. We encourage people with Medicare to enroll in plans with higher ratings -- and we hope lower-rated plans will work hard to improve their care and service.

I also wanted to let you know that, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people who fall into the Part D “donut hole” will be eligible for 50 percent discounts on covered brand-name drugs next year. About 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have gotten cheaper drugs this year through the discount.

Also thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare preventive health benefits are now available for free. These services include cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit with your doctor.

David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Trust Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why a real man would never wear a hoodie

The world is spinning out of control, at least from the perspective of us older generation folks. I present the all-too-common use of the word “hoodie” as a case in point.

I don’t know when they started putting hoods on sweatshirts, but it wasn’t an invention on the scale of those new-fangled readers that are making books obsolete so I presume it probably happened sometime back in the 50s or 60s – the 1950s or 60s. Interesting that we got along all these years just calling them sweatshirts with hoods, as in: “It’s cold today so I think I’ll wear my gray sweatshirt with the hood.”

Then one morning a couple years ago while I was making a bowl of oatmeal (yes, my children, some people actually still make their cereal instead of dumping it out of a box or buying it at McDonald’s), I heard a story about a search for a criminal suspect on a Valley TV station. The suspect, police said, was last seen in the vicinity of McDowell and 32nd street wearing jeans and a hoodie.

Was the suspect, I wondered, a third grade girl? Because what self respecting criminal would be caught dead or alive wearing something called a hoodie. For that matter, what self respecting police officer would use such a term to describe something worn by a suspected criminal.

"A hoodie?" I asked The Consort incredulously. "What the hell is a hoodie?"

Now The Consort fancies herself pretty hip for a grandmother. She actually bought her four-year-old grandson a Justin Bieber album over my strongest protestations that he is an arrogant, talentless teeny bopper whose music could easily rot the mind of the very four-year-old in question. On the other hand, the four-year-old is a Denver Broncos fan, so his state of mind is already in question.

She rolled her eyes and gave me that “what an idiot” look, which, of course, only encouraged me to break into a rant, oatmeal oozing out of the corner of my mouth.

“Even an idiot knows a hoodie has to be a sweatshirt with a hood on it,” I fumed. “But it’s just another example of the dumbing down of the English language in the interest of brevity or something even more sinister – like a Muslim plot to turn all of us white honky Christians into stammering defenseless imbeciles so they can sneak up the Beeline in the dead of night and build a Mosque right here on Main Street. And don’t tell me you haven’t heard that rumor. Or its concomitant (look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls if you still have one) rumor about how that darned Obama is standing right there with them. And of course we wouldn’t want to check any of that out for the truth. It would ruin all our preconceived notions about Muslims and blacks and people born in Hawaii without a birth certificate).

“Anyway,” I continued, “it’s bad enough that they’ve come up with a six-letter word (Praise Jesus it’s not a four-letter-word) for a sweatshirt with a hood, but it’s an effeminate one as well. Real men don’t use words that end in '-ie.'"

I stomped out of the room and outdoors with the dogs to rake some leaves (as opposed to blowing them from one side of the yard to the other with one of those idiotic leaf blowers) pausing on the way out to put on my gray sweatshirt with the hood. There was change in the air and it was creating a sinister chill.

Winning wildlife photos featured on calendar


A bat swoops low over a pond, tongue extended for a drink, its reflection perfectly mirrored in the dark, still water. This stunning image and 12 more are among the winners of this year’s wildlife photo contest, sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The grand prize winner, Bruce Taubert of Glendale, Ariz., took the top honor with his unforgettable image of a Townsend’s big-eared bat. Another Taubert photo, showing a coyote in a snowstorm, won one of 12 first-place prizes.

“To have the Arizona Game and Fish Department select my photos is not just a pat on the back for me, but an opportunity to share my passion for wildlife photography with other people,” Taubert says. “I don’t need a contest as an incentive to go out and shoot, but it’s exciting to know people will see my work.”

The other winning photographers are:

Lou Romain of Scottsdale, American avocet
Debbie Goldenstein of Flagstaff, porcupine
Ann Beisser of Scottsdale, Harris’s hawk
Gordon Karre of Mesa, verdin
Corey Anderson of Tucson, madrean alligator lizard
Stephanie Rainey of Lakeside, spotted owl
Ed Bonkowski of Mesa, immature bald eagle
Rhonda Spencer of Tucson, Couch’s spadefoot
Roger Marble of Gilbert, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
Jeremy Houston of Kanab, Utah, mule deer
Tom Whetten of Tucson, scaled quail

The 13 winning works of art celebrating the diversity of Arizona’s wildlife are featured in a full-size 2012 calendar, published in the November–December 2011 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. In addition to prize-winning wildlife photography, the special issue includes an interview with staff photographer George Andrejko, who has been a professional wildlife photographer for the past 22 years. Andrejko shares his tips for becoming a better wildlife photographer.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department welcomes new subscribers to Arizona’s award-winning magazine about wildlife and outdoor recreation. It usually costs just $8.50 for six issues (one year), but right now subscriptions are on sale at seven issues for $7. Subscriptions are available at www.azgfd.gov/magazine or by calling (800) 777-0015. For those who simply want to purchase the calendar issue, it will be sold at all Game and Fish Department offices for $3 beginning in mid-November.

More than 250 entries were received for this year’s contest. To share the most outstanding entries and celebrate the talent of Arizona’s wildlife photographers, the department has selected honorable mention images as well. These are posted in an online slide show on the photo contest’s Web page, www.azgfd.gov/photocontest.

To view a video with wildlife photography tips from contest winner Bruce Taubert, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5gKesbKuh8.

Monday, November 14, 2011

GCC-Payson student art show takes place Dec. 2

The Payson campus of Gila Community College will hold its 4th Annual Art Show and Sale on Friday, December 2nd.

Student art work from Stained Glass, Drawing, Digital Photography, Photoshop, Watercolor, Oil Painting, Printmaking, Ceramics, Paper Crafts, Folk Art, Jewelry, Sculpture, and Quilted Clothing will be on display.

The Show will run from 5-7:00 pm.

You say you want a revolution? Look about you

PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE

The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal....  Those who think that the cold weather will end the protests should think again. A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun.

Jeffrey D. Sachs
New York Times
readersupportednews.org 

(Jeffrey D. Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of "The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity.")

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A memorable Christmas without breaking bank

Christmas On A Budget!

Between high gas prices and consumers’ sense of a financial squeeze in a struggling economy, it seems as if a nice Christmas is out of the picture this year. Not so says Tawra Kellam, editor of www.LivingOnADime.com . To prove it, here are a few of her ideas to help make Christmas memorable without breaking the bank!

Go Potluck! You buy the turkey -- Have everyone else bring the side dishes and drinks. Turkeys in our area are .59/lb. this time of year. If you buy just the turkey, it will only cost you about $5-$10 to feed everyone for a large family gathering.

Celebrate Christmas the week after Christmas. Take advantage of the after Christmas sales and plan your large extended family gathering for the week after Christmas. Besides being less expensive, it is unlikely to interfere with anyone else’s Chri stmas plans.

Don’t give gifts or give inexpensive gifts to hairstylists, babysitters, teachers and others. I found several wonderful small scented jar candles on clearance for .25 each. I will put three of them in a small basket (purchased at the thrift store for .25) with some tissue paper, ribbon and nice note. A great gift for $1.25!

Break up gift sets. If you find an item that comes in a gift set at Christmas, give parts of it to different recipients. This is great for bath or perfume sets.

Yard sales and thrift stores equal great savings. You can find a lot of new or nearly new items for pennies on the dollar. For our son, we found a working telescope in the box. It cost $1.00, so we saved $24! He got what he wanted and we didn’t have to take out a home equity loan!

Make memories, not more junk. Most kids get more than plenty for Christmas from grandparents, aunts and uncles. If you can only afford one gift for your child, make it a memory! Wrap a note in a box with instructions for a treasure hunt. Send your child all over the house with clues and then have the real gift sitting under the tree when they return. Simple, but a great memory for them!

Tawra Kellam is the publisher of the website www.LivingOnADime.com and the author of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook: Eat Better Spend Less.  For more examples about how to celebrate the holidays for less, contact Tawra at 970-535-4493 or editor@livingonadime.com.

Payson Jazz Trio at Ayothaya next 3 weekends

the Payson Jazz Trio

performs

Ayothaya Thai Cafe

404 E Highway 260, Payson
(north side 260 across from Safeway)

Friday, 5 - 7 p.m. Nov. 11th
Saturday, 5 - 7 p.m., Nov. 12th

Friday, 5 - 7 Nov. 18th
Saturday, 5 - 7 Nov. 19th

Friday, 5 - 7, Nov 25th
Saturday, 5 - 7, Nov. 26th

Come support this wonderful new restaurant
and help keep jazz music alive in Payson.

There is room for dancing!

Bob Smolenski - piano
Mike Buskirk - bass
Gerry Reynolds - drums
(Nick Gravagne Nov. 19th)

Cafe reservations and information,
928-474-1112

Friday, November 11, 2011

Breaking up with Bank of America hard to do

Occupy Wall Street: 
Take the Bull by the Horns

By Leslie Griffith
Reader Supported News
readersupportednews.org

Most of us like our breakups clean and fast.

Close eyes, rip Band-Aid. Be Hemmingway - don't look back, don't mince words, avoid self-inflicted wounds. Just slap your hands in that "I wash my hands of it all" way and move on.

And keep in mind that differences in values are usually the cause of breakups. Who has the energy to pass the years being shrill and unhappy? Just leave, right?

Despite the fact we all "know" these simple guidelines, it's rarely easy to break it off clean with people and, I'm learning the hard way, it's not so easy with institutions either. To my surprise, breaking up with an institution can be messier than a celebrity divorce. Money and power are at stake. If nothing else, splitting with Bank of America is tedious, tiring, and certainly telling.

Here's the tedious part.

Checks are still out there that need to be cashed. So, there's calling and "talking to" one recorded voice after another.

Then comes the online "death watch" as you wait for each outstanding check to be checked off the list.

My credit union account, located far afield in Atlanta, was unprepared for all the transfers and electronic "paperwork." New to this brave new world of anti-banking, finding another, closer credit union will come next.

My automatic mortgage payments are a problem. Me, B of A, the credit union and Citibank - a multi-menagerie-a-trois! Now we need untangling ... and it's like moving cement through mud. There's no telling what Citibank, my mortgage company, might do if a mortgage payment is missed. Hell hath no fury like a bank scorned.

So, timing is important.

Lately, Citibank's been known to slap a lien on a house or two - pronto. They, like Bank of America, helped create this economic meltdown and still have their greedy hands out. Nary a thimbleful of sympathy in sight.

We need to divorce them, too. That's next.

So, you see, breaking up is not easy.

As for B of A, it believes in socialism ... for the rich. So, I refuse to co-sign their behavior. Time to leave those who held my money and my trust ... and then squandered both.

In the words of our esteemed former President George W. Bush:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."

Yeah, baby.

And if you are nodding and thinking "those dumb Republicans," consider this:

Bill Clinton signed the bill to repeal the safety net of Glass-Steagall. Without regulations keeping Wall Street speculators out of our banks, there went our money and the sacred checks and balances that made it possible for us to save and then invest. We are wiser now. We know who our friends are NOT.

Bill Clinton was happier than a pig in slop to sign the bill that eventually took our retirement and made our homes worth less than we owed on 'em. Republican Senators carried the repeal right to the president's office as if carrying the baby Jesus swaddled in greenbacks.

No penitence, no regret, no refunds. It's all gotten so predictable and tiring.

'Nuff said. Today is breakup day and it's really bad manners to talk trash about those we break up with ... right?

Instead, let us remember the way it used to be. Let's remember the Bank of America we once trusted. Because the change from then to now is telling.

My personal relationship with Bank of America goes back 25 years. My loyalty was fierce.

Tellers used to meet us at the door with a smile and unsurpassed courtesy. The banks were shiny and well kempt. They were monuments to security. No need to bury hard earned money in the backyard. Bank of America had our backs.

What a bunch of schmucks.

But we know now what we didn't know then. B of A is not our friend. But, before leaving, I'd like to thank Dara Arruda who put the "premier" in premier banking. For years she fixed whatever problem arose as if it were her own. She works for Merrill Lynch now.

Thank you, Gwen at the Cypress branch. You could make me laugh when my spirits were lower than a snake's belly.

And then there is Jerry. His story is the third "T" - the most telling one. But first some impressions that brought Jerry to the forefront of my observations.

About ten years ago, it started looking like Bank of America was not as loyal to its employees as its employees had been to them. Those employees started disappearing. Soon, walking into my Oakland B of A was like walking into an involuntary assembly line. And the building itself didn't look so safe anymore. It looked old and sad ... much like the unappreciated government post office across the street.

Today, the reassuring, experienced, family-oriented tellers are almost gone.

Now, fresh out of high school faces - sometimes from families one or two generations removed from communism - keep their heads down and their noses out of your business. Odd behavior for bank employees since getting in your business is their job.

Most avoid eye contact. They are the 99 percent and they don't mind. Do not expect them to speak up.

Here we come back to values. To lines that get crossed. Transgressions that one side or the other cannot abide. It was clear B of A helped squander our economic futures. Knowing how broke we all are ... they tried putting another five dollar charge on transactions. It would take too long to list the ways in which they betrayed us all.

But when Jerry went missing ... that was the final nail.

He was a security guard who stood outside my B of A and not only welcomed customers into the assembly line ... he also handed out dog treats to our pooches and knew our names.

He remained a very warm blanket in what had become a very wet-blanket, wham-bam-thank-you ma'am environment.

I asked the no-eye-contact, stay-out-of-everyone's-business tellers "what happened to Jerry?" Without so much as raising her head, one teller said, "He's gone."

"Is he okay?" I was not sure why I whispered this question.

A collective quiet fell over the tellers. It was the quiet of discomfort. The quiet of prisoners who dare not speak.

One young man was kind enough to pull me aside - outside, of course - and explain that Jerry had been "transferred." Like money from one account to another.

"But why? We cared about Jerry." I said.

He whispered, "We did too, but the bank thought he was getting too close to the customers."

I'll miss Gwen, Dara and, most of all, Jerry.

But, no longer having them watching over me helps make this messy break-up less tedious, less tiresome and it certainly tells me it's worth it.

Leslie Griffith has been a television anchor, foreign correspondent and an investigative reporter in newspaper, radio and television for over 25 years. Among her many achievements are two Edward R Murrow Awards, nine Emmies, 37 Emmy Nominations, a National Emmy nomination for writing, and more than a dozen other awards for journalism. She is currently working on a documentary, giving speeches on "Reforming the Media," and writing for many on-line publications, as well as writing a book called "Shut Up and Read." She hopes the book, her speeches, and her articles on the media will help remind the nation that journalism was once about public service ... not profit. To contact Leslie, go to lesliegriffithproductions.com.