An Alternative to the Norm
I'm glad to see you covering the growing movement of worker-owner businesses in our area ("By the People," Feb. 22). This is a much-needed alternative to what is seen as the "norm," which is working for the business owner who's actually focused on the stockholders of the business. That focus is on the bottom line, and if that bottom line doesn't continue to improve, then the stockholder/investor moves on with his capital. To help improve that bottom line, jobs have been sent overseas and businesses have consolidated, displacing wage earners.
Over the past several decades, the "worker bees" have watched their salaries stagnate as their workloads have increased to accommodate the layoffs of fellow employees. More and more of the earnings go to those who oversee the businesses in inflated salaries and obscene bonuses.
Catholic Social Teachings has offered an alternative path that Father Arizmendi studied and taught to his students in Mondragon, Spain. His students founded the first factory in the mid-'40s, making small cook stoves. Since then, the cooperative movement has grown to include other factories, banks, schools, housing, markets, hospitals—a whole community based on the worker-owner concept. The Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy is another community that has been recognized as an example of a successful cooperative economy. The region has developed over time, and now, one-third of the region's GDP is derived from cooperative enterprises.
I encourage your readers to support this movement and see it as a clear alternative to what has been seen as the only source of employment. The future generations deserve better than what Wall Street has to offer.
Rest in Peace, Ranger Rick
As a former Camp Meekerite and longtime acquaintance and fan of Ranger Rick, I couldn't have possibly said it better myself ("Final Frontier," Feb. 22). Thank you for this eloquent and highly accurate picture of the man so many of us loved.
I sailed into Bodega Bay in 1991 from my home port of Point Pleasant, N.J., took my '58 Harley off the boat and commenced to explore Western Sonoma County. The first locals that I met were Evelyn at the Casino in Bodega and then Rick at the Union Hotel. My meeting him was very much like Frank Dice's description. After living for a while on the river in Forestville, then Santa Rosa, and with many encounters with this rascal, I finally moved to the Bay Area, losing touch with my favorite magical place, Occidental.
I moved back to Santa Rosa a couple years ago, and was pleasantly surprised to see Ranger Rick directing traffic in "downtown" Occidental. I hadn't seen Rick in roughly 15 years, and dammit if he not only recognized me, but shared a lot of the conversations we had long before. Since then, I've moved back to the Jersey Shore, and I wish I could make the memorial but can't. The last time I saw Rick, I was hanging out at Terry Anne's shop the Flying Turtle, and Ranger Rick says to me, "Hey, here comes 'the man,'" just as Tom Waits walked by with his family. How appropriate!
Spring Lake Heights, N.J.
Editor's Note: A memorial for Ranger Rick takes place on Saturday, March 3, at St. Philip's Church in Occidental. Longtime Camp Meeker resident Seth Murchinson presides, Nick Gravenites plays music and Gerard Nebesky cooks up his famous paella. A finer tribute couldn't have been planned, frankly.It runs from 11am to 1pm at St. Philip's. 3730 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental.
Friedman's was supposed to be at the Target Center, which turned out to be one big lie ("Paving Petaluma," Feb. 22). I am done with this. No more "Friedman's Bait." No more selling out Petaluma.
Councilman Mike Healy is a supporter of this giant shopping center project, and not too long ago I saw him talking to Bill Friedman on the street in downtown Petaluma. Surprise! Now Friedman's shows up again as a tenant to get public support for another big-box project. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how the political manipulation works here.
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