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August 18, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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August 18, 2010

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Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010 11B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Consumer protection bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing, WHERE I STAND JOHN KABATECK EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS/CALIFORNIA Look up the word "disclo- sure" in Webster's Dictio- nary and you will see at the heart an intent "to expose to view; to make known." So it comes with a great deal of confusion when a bill dressed in consumer protec- tion actually "hides" some- thing from view. No truer words could be said with regard to Senate Bill 933 (Oropeza). The truth of the matter is that SB 933 is a woff in sheep's clothing. Why would a bill propped up as consumer protection actually do the opposite? SB 933 is a clever attempt by leading credit and debit card companies to protect the bil- lions of dollars in "swipe fee" profits they receive from deb- it card purchases. Visa alone controls more than 75 percent of the debit card market in the United States. It makes huge profits by charging merchants a swipe fee (technically called an interchange fee) for every debit and credit card transac- tion. In 2008, Visa and the banks pocketed more than $48 billion in swipe fees. SB 933 will hurt consumers , and businesses in California because it ignores the true costs of debit card fees. In fact, one small Califor- nia bookstore says swipe fee costs can be the difference between profit and loss for a small bflsiness that conducts many debit card transactions each day. Even for small businesses, this can amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dol- lars each year. One small, in- dependently owned gas sta- tion in Southern California pays more than $200,000 an- nually just for the right to ac- cept debit cards. Rather than deal with the source of the problem, which is Visa's billions in swipe fee profits, SB 933 attacks Cali- fornia retailers by banning them from recovering these costs through a debit card surcharge. After wages and facility op- erations, swipe fees repre- sent one of the largest busi- ness costs for a retailer. Every additional dollar that retailers are forced to pay for Visa's swipe fee is another dollar that can't be used to , hire employees. For some businesses, this can add up to the equivalentof paying the salary and benefits of one or two employees. Proponents of the legisla- tion falsely assert that SB 933 will eliminate swipe fees on debit card purchases. The re- ality is that Visa is.attempt- ing an end run to convince California's legislators and the governor to approve SB 933 just as swipe fees are un- der investigation by Con- gress, the department of jus- tice and the attorneys gener- al of several states, and are currently subject to antitrust lawsuits filed by merchants and associations. SB 933 eliminates the trans- parency that currently exists through point-of-sale disclo- sure, shifts the costs onto the backs of small businesses and puts the big payment networks in a position to raise rates at will (30 percent increase in April 2010). Small businesses will suffer the brunt of in- creasing interchange fees, and consumers will pay more for all goods and services in order to subsidize those who use deb- it cards. SB 933 also limits con- sumer choice of payment op- tions. As was the case with the ban on surcharges for credit card interchange fees, SB 933 will force some retail- ers to refuse acceptance of debit cards or establish mini- mum purchase prices (com- monly $10) for acceptance. How are consumers best served by fewer options to make basic purchases? To make matters worse, SB 933 is targeted Solely at Cali- fornia consumers and busi- nesses, notably small busi- nesses. State and local gov- ernments willcontinue to be allowed to impose a sur- charge that in some cases is $25 or more for paying debts like parking tickets. The big utility companies are also exempt, so your elec- tricity bill may come at a higher cost. ff the utilities and state and local govern- ment are exempted from SB 933 because they cannot af- ford this bill, how do legisla- tors expect that SB 933 will not hurt small businesses? The deceptive nature of SB 933 is nothing short of a woff in sheep's clothing. If the proponents of SB 933 truly want to protect consumers, they would not prohibit re- tailers from disclosing the re- al cost of swipe fees or con- sumers from choosing the lowest cost payment option. More spending, now won't .save the economy later WHERE I STAND sible Bush administration ...................................................................... did in all of its eight years TOM McCLINTOCK CONGRESSMAN CALIFORNIA 4TH DISTRICT Many people are asking why Congress is here today (for a special session Aug. 10). I think the answer's pret- ty simple: we're not bank- rupting the country fast enough and so we need to come back and spend more. In the merciful week that Congress was not in session, my constituents hadone message: Stop the spending. Obviously, Congress isn't lis- tening. Over the past two years, this administration and this Congress have increased spending by nearly 18 per- cent and run up more debt in two years than the irrespon- combined. Meanwhile, unem- ployment has increased from 7.6 to 9.5 percent. Yet the problem in the view of House Democrats is that we just haven't spent enough. So we gather here today to shovel another $26 billion at the problem That comes to about $330 for an average family -- tak-. en directly out of the nation's struggling economy. We're told, don't worry, it's paid for. How's that? Ten billion dol- lars is from increasing taxes on businesses with foreign subsidiaries. But remember this: Businesses don't pay business taxes. Business tax- es can only be,paid in one of three ways -- by us as con- sumers through higher We see the job "saved or created" when the govern- ment puts the money back in- to the economy: What we don't see as clearly are the jobs lost or prevented when the government first has to take that money out of the economy. We see the lost or prevented jobs through chronic unemployment rates and a stagnant jobs market at a time when we should long ago have moved into a nor- mal "V" shaped economic re- co,cry. Nor does this even guaran- tee saving teaching jobs. Good school boards, faced with the choice between a couple of good teachers or a pointless and overpaid bu- reaucrat are probably going to keep the teachers and fire the bureaucrat. But this bill prices, by us as employees through lower wages, and by us as investors through low- er earnings on our 401(k) plans. Another $12 billion comes from cuts to food stamps starting in 2014, but we're go- ingto use the savings start- ing now. I tried that one out with my wife at home. "Hon- ey, sure we can afford that new Jet Ski this year-- I'm planning on cutting our gro- cery budget by $10;000 in 2014." I'm sad to report that she didn't buy that. We're told this is part of the plan to "save or create" jobs. This isn't saving jobs -- it is destroying them. Gov- ernment cannot inject a sin- gle dollar into the economy until it has first taken that dollar out of the very same economy .... a  says they.don',h..v tomake that choice. Indeedl this bill says they're actually prohib- ited from doing anything that would reduce their spending below last year's level. What about Medicaid? A bi-partisan group of legisla- tors in my state of California tells us it needs this bailout money to save the state's Medicaidprogram. But bail- ing out bad management doesn't improve it. At the peak of the good times, when California was taking in more money than ever be- fore, it was already running a deficit of over $9 billion -- almost 10 percent of its bud- get. Just four years ago, those same legislators voted Medic- aid expansions that have in- creased its share of general ftlndcspending,from 14 to 19 percent. California offers such Medicaid options as acupuncture, chiropractic services and psychological counseling. And now they're shocked -- just shocked -- that they keep running out of money. I love my state, but deficits that are made in California should stay in California. With the nation now some $13.2 trillion in debt -- 93 per- cent of the entire economy -- it is time to invoke the first law of holes: When you're in one, stop digging. And if Con- gress doesn't invoke that law now, I can all but guarantee you the American people will invoke it in November. McClintock voted against the $26 billion teacher jobs bill that Congress passed last week'. The bill also included money for Medicaid. LETTERS to t EDITOR Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an ad- dress and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week, per person and only one letter per person, per month re- garding the same subject. We do not publish hlrd-party, anony- mous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words.The deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-mailed at Well done I want to thank plumas- for the timely in- formation on the Washoe County Sheriff's pursuit into Graeagle and the quick action by the Plumas County Sher- iff. I am new to the area and check this site daily. I would not have known about the po- lice action had it not been for the information and updates on the site. Thank you and well done! Bill Powell , Very capable I want to share with our neighbors how fortunate we are to have the quality of service we receive from our community first responders from Graeagle Fire. Our family has had the need to call upon Ed Ward and his very capable crew twice in the last several months, due to an emergency situation at our home. These fine men and women are extremely profes- sional in their work with the utmost pride and seriousness. Within minutes, they are on the scene ready to take charge. Without their diligence, I'm certain we would have had a life-threatening case. Too often, we take this ex- cellent service for granted. In a small community like ours, how lucky we are to have these folks around. We all owe a big debt of grati- tude to these well-trained volunteers. Bryan Hansen Graeagle Golden opportunity What a pleasure it was to hear Sheriff Greg Hagwood speak at the Aug. 7 Tea Party Patriots meeting. Sheriff Hagwood provided a wealth of information about law en- forcement and its challenges in Plumas County. He pre- sented valuable insight into the various roles of the de- partment and described the dedication and hard work of his officers and the jail per- sonnel in their efforts to pro- tect the citizenry of Plumas County. Faced with severe budgetary and manpower constraints, it is impossible to comprehend how he and his department can provide so much on so little. The sheriff spoke on a vari- ety of subjects, including the release of state prisoners to county jails to serve out their less-than-three-year terms and the impact on local com- munities; the change in "comp" time where for every day served on a sentence the sentence is reduced; the pro- liferation of pot farms in the county; the challenges of pro- viding comprehensive ser -. vices with limited manpower and budgetary resources; the pitfalls of putting inmates to work; and much more. The sheriff afforded the Tea Party PatHot_s a golden opportunity to listen to one of the most dedicated public ser- vants in our county. We were inspired by his commitment, enthusiasm and optimism in his role as peacekeeper, law enforcement officer, diplomat and public official. Sheriff Hagwood speaks to a variety of organizations as a public service to' share his knowledge and experience, and the realities of public safety in Plumas County. Lynn Desjardin Portola Guillotine Saturday evening I went to the Graeagle fire hall to lis- ten to our new sheriff speak. The first thing I noticed when I drove up was that all the cars parked there were new or near new. I hid my old clunker over at the post office so as not to embarrass anyone. When I went inside, sure enough, it was mostly the country club crowd, you know the folks who were born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple. Anyway, I was very im- pressed by Sheriff Hagwood. He is very well spoken and seems to be a very intelligent person. I got a kick out of how pa- tient he was with the Tea Party crowd who were shocked to find out that the jail inmates had to have three meals a day and medical care. The sheriff explained that if inmates were not treated humanely, they would be paying for lawsuits. That shut them up. My impression of the Tea Party was right-wing Repub- licans on steroids, nothing that the guillotine wouldn't cure. Betty Miller Sierraville Opportunities We've got a special oppor- tunity to get a 4 or4.5 percent bond rate from the USDA if the cap doesn't interfere with our bonds. We've got a great opportu- nity to upgrade our 50-year- old hospital with about 50 percent of the cost being borne by the corporations that operate in our county. We have a significant op- portunity to continue deliver- ing babies in our county. We lost an opportunity when the "cappers" didn't run for the hospital board, where they could have made constructive suggestions. We will have a significant opportunity to attract quality doctors in the future, not ex- pensive "rent-a-docs." We will be able to tell them that we are a community that tru- ly supports our health care community and appreciates it. I've been asked why . Greenville and Graeagle resi- dents don't have to pay prop- erty taxes to our hospital See Letters, page 12B DANGER, from page 10B the scanner. He leans in, listens, says, "They've got him ... no ... yeah, they've got him -- on a logging road just off Maidu." I quickly call Delaine, give her the news, jump in my car and head for horfie, where I've managed to remember that a fresh bat- tery is in the cha/'ger in the kitchen. As I drive around the corner, my neighbors are on a driveway in a worried huddle. "They've got him," I yell as I screech by. I keep the car running and have the battery changed in about 10 seconds -- that's what motivation does to you. I jump back in the car and race around to Maidu -- no one's in sight anywhere. I drive up and around to where the street connects with Yonkalla. I can see cop cars and lights up ahead. I pull up, and a cop bends down to my win- dow. I tell him I'm from the newspaper. "They caught him," I say, acting like I'm part of the inside circle. "Yeah," he says. "Is Greg up there?" I ask, insinuating my- self even more. "Can I get up there?" "Sure," he says. "The command center is up there." I drive to the top of Yonkalla, where there are about 40 officers from several SWAT teams, Reno Canine, Reno and Plumas sher- ifffs offices, Plumas CHP, guys in black, guys in camo, people talking on phones, on radios. Plumas County sheriff's officer Mike Meisenheimer, the first one to come upon the suspect, has just run up, still pouring sweat from the pursuit. He starts telling his story. I say to Mike, "Mind ifI record this?" He stops mid.sentence and shakes his head vehemently, "I'm not talking to the press!" SWAT commander Gerry Hedrick, who had just the day before given our newspaper staff a SWAT demonstration (at which I was thinking, how often do they really use this stuff?.), calls over to Meisenheimer, "You can talk to her." And so he does. Mike tells the whole story, and it feels like I'm walking up there with him. Then, he backs up and tells about the Shelby Cobra Mustang blowing through Por- tola at 120 mph. Mike and his fellow officers share a moment'of appreciation for the get- away car. Meantime, Hagwood and Hendrick are huddled next to the SWAT van enjoying a rit- ualistic, private debriefing. I try to get a photo of the fugitive, but he's whisked away, I suspect, right under my nose. When I ask for mug shots, Hendrick says, "Come on down to the park, have lunch with us. You can give us your e-marl address there." I look around: these men and women are still feeling the adrenaline rush of the chase, , t but they re coming down and enjoying the safe, bloodless victory with their fellow offi- cers and friends. 'Everyone I talked to -- whether it was a Plumas officer or one from Reno -- noted how well everyone worked together on this operation. When I get down to the park, everyone's re- laxing. One of the K9 guys, Deputy Phil Jones, has his dog Pascha out on the lawn and is playing with him. Pascha is joyfully running after his toyl He's been on this case" since 6 p.m. the night before. He's also the dog that first alerted officers to Boss's pres- ence near the water tower on that logging road off Maidu. He's happy as can be chewing on his toy, but when he waits for it to be thrown again, he's given commands in a very foreign lan- guage. His anticipation and focus is -- unusu- al, for want of a more precise word. Deputy Jones points out his team leader, Sergeant Mike Wright, and says he can tell me about the K9 unit's role in this operation. I introduce myself, and Wright asks, "You won't twist my words around will you?" Just then, Dwight Cline walks by. "No, you can trust her," he says. I'm amazed, again, how such events can bring people together. Wright tells me the story of the burglary and the chase, about the dogs and their han- dlers, who came up the night before and found nothing, returned home only to get a call at 8 a.m. to return and bring helicopters with them. After that, I head back home to start send- ing in photographs and transcribe inter- views. I get a call from my son who is arriving in a few hours from Portland with his girlfriend. The next day, beside Lilly Lake, he asks her to marry him. Life turns one way, then another. I'll remember this week for a long time -- and recall it as one of the lucky ones.