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Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Musings

There are a bunch of interesting happenings that somehow do not seem to amount to one full story, so here they are.

Wedding Time

Every year County Clerk Freddie Oakley holds her protest hoping that some day same-sex partners can get married. Apparent that day will come next Monday and the County will have to open a second room to accommodate the roughly 19 or 20 same-sex couples that have scheduled weddings for next week.

The weddings, according to Davis Enterprise reporter Corey Golden will take place in the Roland and Betsy Marchand Room in the basement of the County Administration building.

I am a strong supporter of marriage for same-sex partners. My belief is that it is really only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is accepted throughout the nation. If you look at the demographic shift, you realize how inevitable this is.

I am 35, people around my age are in general supportive of gay marriage. We have friends who are gay, family members, etc. People younger than me are even more supportive of marriage equality. The gay marriage issue is really only controversial among people who are older than 45 or 50 and people who are very religious. Even those who are very religious and young do not have same animosity toward gay people are older people. It is a simple matter for us, we just grew up around gay people, it is no longer something unusual or scary.

That said, I do not know that we are there yet as a society or even a state. I am nervous having the gay marriage issue on the ballot this year both from the standpoint of not wishing to have a constitutional amendment on the books to deal with but also from the standpoint of not wanting to draw out the hardcore anti-gay voters who might not be enthusiastic about John McCain.

I also wonder what happens to people who got married in the narrow window between now and Election Day, should the voters vote to make marriage between same-sex partners unconstitutional. Obviously part of this is symbolic, going through the ceremony with your loved one in front of your families and friends. But the other part is legal and perhaps more important. There are legal rights that go along with marriage that are crucial and one of the reasons we will eventually have to do something in this society.

We cannot have a class of people who do not have rights to benefits, health care, power of attorney, and other marital legal rights. We may not need expressly marriage to get those legal rights, but we do need something and this is an issue not address enough.

In the meantime, a large number of same-sex partners will be having the time of their lives and that cannot be a bad thing.

Clinton Backs Out of Graduation

Former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to deliver a commencement speech at UCLA today. But earlier this week he canceled that speech due to the ongoing labor dispute.

Clinton's office said he would not appear because of the long-running rift between the university and AFSCME Employees.

The 20,000 workers involved in the wage dispute range from technicians at UC medical facilities to janitors and landscapers. Contract talks have sputtered for months.

Clinton's office issued a statement:
"Due to the ongoing labor dispute, he regrets that he will be unable to participate in commencement this year and he wishes the UCLA graduates the best of luck"
A couple of days ago on the Vanguard, a student wrote in to the previous story where Clinton and Former Speaker Fabian Nunez declared that they would not cross the picket line to speak at graduation.

The student said:
"As a student about to graduate from UCLA, I am terribly disappointed that our graduation ceremony, a special time for students' friends and families, is being turned into a political circus.

We were only awarded two tickets this year for graduation. That's right - while most campuses get to have as many guests as their hearts desire, we can only have mom and pop sitting in the audience because Bill has to have plenty of elbow room for his posse of media and special friends. Last year's paltry number of FOUR tickets was low - this is just ridiculous!

Graduation is supposed to be a time for us to celebrate our accomplishments. Sometimes I am terribly disappointed in just how politicized every event at this campus manages to be. I certainly wish I knew about this coming into college...

I can't believe he would pull out just a few short days before one of the biggest achievements of our lives so that he can make a political statement. This day has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the graduates. "
I post this here, because most probably did not see that post but also because the student makes some good points even if I ultimately disagree.

First, I think there is a problem that you can only get two tickets for graduation and that might suggest that Clinton is not the best speaker to begin with. How can any event with Clinton in a year where his wife was a Presidential candidate up until last week, manage to not be political? Somethings are simply beyond my comprehension, I suppose.

As the student points out, graduation is supposed to be a time for students and their families to celebrate a great accomplishment and if one cannot have their family there, it makes it more difficult.

On the other hand, I think people need to have an understanding of helping those less fortunate that they are. Growing up in a union household, one of the things you learned is that you do not cross a picket line. So for Clinton to do so, would likely go against his own principles. It is unfortunate that innocent people get caught up in the middle of it, but at the same time, I am struck at the complete lack of acknowledgment by the student about the situation with AFSCME and their employees.

So while I agree that the day has nothing to do with Clinton and everything to do with the graduates, ultimately, when Clinton made the arrangement to speak at the graduation, he was not aware of the labor the strife on campus.

Target Breaks Ground

As we all know by now in 2006, voters approved rezoning for a Target store near the intersection of Second Street and Mace Blvd. Now finally almost two years later they will break ground on the store despite concerns about it being near a superfund cite.

Apparently in addition to Target there will be several other stores right next to it, the largest will be about 25,000 square feet.

The site is supposed to open in October of 2009. Apparently Target only opens stores three months out of the year in April, July, and October.

According to the Davis Enterprise story:
"Although the city doesn't know which businesses eventually will fill the buildings adjacent to Target, it put some limitations in the development agreement.

One 25,000-square-foot pad will allow for a building about the size of the former Food Fair store in West Davis, Webb said. Two pads allow for 7,500-square-foot buildings and one will be 6,000 square feet.

The city was able to specify the type of businesses it would like to see in those spaces, allowing restaurants, and community retail like clothing, electronics, soft goods or office supplies. Fast-food restaurants and neighborhood services can take up no more than 10 percent of each pad building space, Webb said.

The city also specified that building permits for the pads must be issued within two years of Target's permit. "
Funny no mention of the LEED certification. I know some people are excited to have a Target in Davis. As one who does not shop in Target outside of Davis, I will likely not shop in Target in Davis or at any of the satellite stores as well. I think we need to continue to support our local downtown business.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting