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Ritter Center Opens New Medical Clinic

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Marin County | California

After much huffing and puffing from some neighborhood critics, the Ritter Center’s expanded medical clinic officially opened in San Rafael on November 14th.

New Ritter Center Medical Clinic

The Gerstle Park Neighborhood Association had fought the installation of the new clinic from the start because members believed it would attract increasing numbers of troublesome homeless people to the area. They also complained that a required firewall and parapet were ugly and disturbed neighborhood aesthetics. “This new [wall] is a blight, no matter how much blue paint they cover it with,” said Amy Likover, president of the Gerstle Park Neighborhood Association. “The design is simply inappropriate to the gateway to San Rafael.” (Marin Independent Journal, Sept 1, 2012)

Firewall under construction

Firewall under construction.

Firewall from the real of new medical module.

The association managed to slow the approval of the modular building but not stop it. Now that the installation is complete, I think most people would agree that the building actually improves the appearance of a space formerly used to park vehicles and store dumpsters.

The new clinic displaces parking and dumpster space.

The new clinic displaces parking and dumpster space.

If you happen to be in San Rafael, drive over to Ritter Street and judge for yourself. If you’ve been by the Center before, you might also notice that fewer people are loitering in and around the premises. This is probably due to the new security officer and the new ban on smoking. I don’t know if this is affecting the number of people receiving services, but if so, I believe this is a temporary result of the much-needed enhancements to the Ritter Center. It certainly would be a huge mistake to allow smoking back on the grounds to make the campus “more inviting.”


Written by Ron Greene

November 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Go Obama!

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Marin County | California

The presidential election is over and most of the people I know are delighted with Barack Obama’s victory. It’s one of the perks of living in blue state California.

After spending an incredible amount of money and energy to get elected for a second term, now Obama’s real work begins. And things couldn’t look grimmer. Global warming, international terrorism, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Europe’s impending fiscal collapse, our own Fiscal Cliff, Arab Springs gone bad, and Syria’s devastation, just to name a few issues on his plate.

And as I write this, the Israeli military is poised to invade Gaza in what has until now been a futile effort to stop the rain of deadly rockets on Jewish towns and villages. It’s hard to know what Hamas militants have to gain through their rocket attacks, since Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, but it’s possible that Hamas hopes to provoke Israel into some colossal blunder that will draw in outside forces, or at least trigger universal condemnation.

So, although I’m pleased he won, I actually feel sorry for Obama, and think he must be a little mad to want the job.

Two friends have just written their observations about the election, and I thought I would share their thoughts here. Gayle is calling for a revision in our antiquated and politicizing voting procedures. Emil is thanking friends for supporting his efforts as an Obama volunteer in Cleveland, Ohio.

Gayle Donsky
Mill Valley, California

The Heroes of the Election

Thousands of people are anonymous heroes of last week’s election. Fervently adamant about exerting their constitutional right to vote, they prevailed by standing in line—some as long as eight hours—to cast their vote—even the aged, the disabled, the poor, the young.  In Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other swing states where partisan state officials tried to create multiple obstacles to voting for certain segments of the population, these heroes firmly persisted and significantly impacted the outcome of the election.   President Obama stated in his acceptance speech, referring to the voting process,  “I want to thank every American who participated in this election…By the way, we have to fix that.”  The multiple forms of voting obstruction which targeted high density Democrat areas—primarily  in swing states—ranged from limiting polling locations, limiting early voting, and publicizing false information about registration requirements and voting times.

The United States has one of the most antiquated and politicized voting procedures of Western countries.  Unlike countries like Canada, France, Germany and even Mexico and Venezuela we do not have a nationally organized uniform standards for voting, nor do we have federal and uniform functioning voting equipment.  Our voting is run by partisan officials operating under a patchwork of different state and local laws.

I hope that the President and/or Congress will “fix” these multiple problems—at least with the federal government implementing universal standards for federal elections.  These standards would require unified times of voting, a required number of polling places per voting population, federally owned and operated voting machines, and most importantly, elections run by nonpartisan officials.

Hopefully this would result in people not having to be “heroes” to exercise their right to vote. We need to applaud and give great thanks to these heroes.

Emil Davidson
Studio City, California

Dear Ones,

While Lili and I appreciate your sentiments about our work in Ohio, I want to point out that we both were two small soldiers in a very large army that brought victory to Ohio. One example: 21,000 volunteers knocked on 819,000 doors prior to the election. Lili and I worked with the Voter Protection team. Our job was recruiting volunteers, preferably attorneys, to be official Poll Observers sitting inside every polling place in Cuyahoga County and getting them to the proper training sessions. These observers are the real heroes. They had to be at the polling place at 6:00 a.m. – a half- hour before the polling place opened at 6:30 a.m. They served until the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. and then stayed until the ballots were forwarded to the Board of Elections. Assuming they had to get up at 5:00 a.m., they served for at least 16 hours on election day.

There were also members of “The Red Team” who worked outside in the cold all day as they monitored the lines of people waiting to vote, making sure they were adequately familiar with the many questions on what was a very long ballot and looking out for mischief makers from the other side. They had an equally long day. Over-arching all this was an excellent organization effort in the state, and in the nation!

We both felt privileged to do whatever we could in what we considered to be the most important election in our lifetime. Had Romney won, we’re convinced that we wouldn’t recognize our country. Most important perhaps was the fact that the people won out over the money — over a billion dollars spent to defeat our President. Our next fight should be to get the money out of our politics! What an incredible waste of resources that could have been spent productively for the good of the nation.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience. We met lots of dedicated people from all over the country and hope to maintain contact with some of them. The highlight, of course, was election day. I couldn’t sleep the night before (surprise!) because we had to get up at 5:00 a.m. and I was eager to get going. “Let the games begin!” was the way I felt. The outcome was not assured so we were somewhat anxious and impatient to get the results of the balloting. We were assigned to HQ that day, trouble-shooting on the telephone and dealing with people who wandered in, needing to be directed to the proper polling place. After a while, I needed to move so I volunteered to drive people to their polling place and that is what I did the bulk of the day. I guess one could argue that I accounted for ten votes for Obama in this way, hardly the winning margin but satisfying nonetheless.

The best part of the day was watching TV with maybe 100 others at HQ to get the returns. With every encouraging announcement very loud cheers erupted, but we wanted to be with the Voter Protection team when Ohio was announced so we drove to a bar where they were all congregating (ironically located across the street from my high school).

Everyone was there and all were brimming with anticipation. When Ohio was announced, the celebration exploded in the room and I thought we’d blow the roof off the place.That was definitely the best moment of all, and we were definitely in the best place to be in the country!

I could say a great deal more, but I hope this gives you all some perspective about our contribution.

Again, thank you for your over generous sentiments. We do appreciate them.

Go Obama! ! !

Written by Ron Greene

November 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm