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January 2022

Self government

Ulmer: Meetings Offer Lessons in Improving Self-Reliance | Columnists

My father spent 26 years of his career as executive vice president of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. I remember accompanying him to a few annual local co-op meetings where free lunch, door prizes and self-government attracted hundreds of co-op members/owners. Dad and I were walking through the lunch line and he was so distracted by people wanting to chat with him that it didn’t take long for me to realize I was alone. So I’ll just take a full plate and find a seat.

Meetings were usually held in a small municipal gymnasium or community center/church/fallout shelter and were always packed. I was always hungry back then and the rural people were especially good at filling your bag with food. Best of all, their hospitality always made me feel at ease.

The purpose of these annual meetings is to nominate and elect the board of directors of their cooperatives. Very often, the races for jobs were very competitive. Each member, essentially anyone connected to rural electric power, was given one vote and only members present were allowed to vote; proxy votes were not permitted. Many people traveled long distances, so the free lunch became more of a necessity than a luxury.

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Sometimes it took a while to nominate candidates and count votes, gaps were filled with speeches, and door prizes were awarded during downtime. In fact, it was quite an event and Dad was in his element.

It was in the 1960s/70s when rural electric cooperatives created the electrical system we still rely on today. Back then, investing in building power plants and mining coal in North Dakota were just plans that would require billions in investment to complete. So Dad would deliver his statewide and nationwide membership speech in hopes of convincing members to risk the investment. Not all meetings welcomed Dad to the podium. It was not uncommon to hear John Birchers better dead than red heckling with “This government-sponsored co-op thing is socialism and you’re a communist!” It always bothered me because it was the era of McCarthyism; but dad seemed to take it in stride explaining that there were no private investment utilities willing to risk their capital on the basis of one customer every six miles or so so rural electric co-ops had to fill the void.

In the end, member owners voted in favor of low-interest Government Guaranteed Loans (REAs) to electrify rural America. Dad’s job was to convince the state and federal governments to provide the loans the co-ops needed to build the factories, power lines and extract the coal.

Dad didn’t do all of this alone; he knew his people/owner members would support him because they knew he cared about the little guy on the phone. Next, its members owned coal mines, power plants, and power lines that led to their property.

The trips home allowed Dad and I to discuss all sorts of things at length, and I’m pretty sure it was here that my interest in political science eventually led to my majoring in college. My studies involved a massive and deep appreciation of all types of governments and political shenanigans that convinced me that there is no perfect form of government, but the ones that work best understand that the little guy in the end of the line is just as important. like the guy on top of the heap. These meetings have been a great example of how we can govern ourselves better.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public servant, non-profit leader and opinionated citizen who believes we should do what we can to make the world better than we found it.

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Independence activist

Hong Kong independence activist released from prison

Prominent Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung was released from prison on Wednesday after serving a four-year sentence for taking part in a protest in 2016.

The 30-year-old activist posted a message on his Facebook page saying he had been released from Shek Pik prison before dawn and was at home with his family.

“After four years, I want to cherish this precious time to be reunited with my family and resume a normal life with them,” he wrote while also thanking his supporters for their care and love.

Leung first came to prominence in 2016 as a spokesperson for Hong Kong Indigenous, a group that has called for maintaining a separate identity for Hong Kong and a complete break with mainland China. He took part in the so-called Fishball Revolution protest against a police crackdown on unlicensed street food vendors in the Mong Kok district, which turned violent.

Leung was convicted in 2018 of assaulting a police officer and participating in a riot in connection with the Mong Kok incident and sentenced to six years in prison. According to local media, the sentence was reduced by two years for good behavior.

He coined the slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time” for his campaign for a seat in the city’s legislature in 2016, which was halted when he was disqualified for his pro-independence stance. . The slogan has since been banned under the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 in response to massive and violent protests the previous year.

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms under the law, which prohibits succession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion.

Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse.

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Independence activist

Hong Kong independence activist Leung released from prison

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong activist Edward Leung, who coined the now-banned slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time,” was released from prison on Wednesday after serving four years behind bars for a 2016 protest. .

Leung was a prominent independence activist and spokesperson for Hong Kong Indigenous, an independence group in the city that was outspoken about “localism” and the need to preserve a distinct identity in Hong Kong.

In 2018, the 30-year-old activist was found guilty of assaulting a police officer and participating in riots during what is now known as the Fishball Revolution. The unrest began when authorities attempted to crack down on unlicensed hawkers selling street food during the 2016 Lunar New Year holiday in Mong Kok, but were met with protesters who objected to their actions as an attack against local traditions.

Originally sentenced to six years in prison, Leung had his sentence reduced by two years for good behavior, according to local media.

Leung’s release comes amid a crackdown on political dissent in Hong Kong, with authorities arresting the majority of Hong Kong’s outspoken pro-democracy activists over the past two years. Many of the city’s prominent activists are currently behind bars or have fled abroad to pursue their activism.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page early Wednesday morning, Leung said he had been released from prison and was back with his family.

“As required by law, I am under a supervision order upon my release,” he wrote in the post, adding that he would stop using social media and not take any interviews or visits. with the media.

“After four years, I want to cherish this precious time to be reunited with my family and resume a normal life with them,” Leung said, before thanking his supporters for their care and love.

Leung is known for coining the slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time” for his election campaign, when he tried to run for a seat in the Legislative Assembly in 2016. He was later disqualified.

The phrase later became a popular protest slogan during the 2019 protests, but authorities have since banned the slogan, saying it had secessionist overtones which are illegal under the National Security Law which was implemented in 2020. The law prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign collusion to intervene in city affairs.

Leung advocated a so-called forceful resistance against political violence in his campaigns, which was seen as a polarizing opinion and drew opposition from the city’s more traditional pro-democracy camp.

However, his stance of a more active form of resistance also caught the attention of younger voters, and many of his ideas, such as “leaderless” protests, were later used during months of anti-government protests in 2019.

In a post on Leung’s Facebook page on Tuesday – a day before his release – Leung’s family urged supporters to let Leung “find his family” and urged supporters to prioritize their own safety.

The post also said that, following a legal notice, Leung’s Facebook page would be taken down and the content would be removed on January 19 to protect him.

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Home rule

Scottish Home Rule or ‘Devo Max’ is as relevant as the Schleswig-Holstein issue in the independence debate – Kenny MacAskill MP

But while it scorched Twitter and provoked heated demands and equally strenuous denials, it remained an esoteric debate.

It’s not on the agenda, and with another Indy referendum, it’s just not going to happen anytime soon. Nor was it discussed or even brought up in Westminster or the main halls of power. It is a debate without substance.

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Although not “as dead as a dodo”, it has as much relevance as the proverbial Schleswig-Holstein question. The Conservative government is simply not interested.

They will no more listen to Nicola Sturgeon’s pleas for a “gold-plated” referendum than they are to the cries of lesser mortals to make it a multi-option referendum.

The coronavirus still dominates and it’s “the economy, stupid” that will dominate now and for some time to come. Talking about a referendum will remain just that, because the focus and the agenda will be on unemployment and the cost of living.

Requests for a referendum will be rejected and discussions on its formulation will not even be taken into account.

Because a new expression has entered the political lexicon and has far more resonance in Westminster than Devo Max ever had. His “muscular unionism” which roughly translates to “take what you get Jock”, otherwise “know your place in Scotland”.

House rule is off the table, says Kenny MacAskill (Photo: Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

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SNP figures reject calls for devo-max option on Scottish independence ballot…

This is reflected in almost every recent action by the Conservative government. There is no discussion or even debate. This applies not only to the rejection of any idea of ​​increased decentralization, but also to the application of the current constitutional regulation. The Home Market Act is imposed, Scotland sidelined and Westminster dominating.

Welcome to the new era of decentralization. Back to the useless of 2014. That was then, what is now. There was no multiple-option referendum at the time, as Cameron, in his ultimately cost-dear Brexit arrogance, assumed he would comfortably win it and ruled it out.

There will be no referendum, but even if there was, it would have to be clarified what Devo Max is. Yet since 2014, if not before “the wish”, it remains what an individual thinks.

To vote for it in the abstract would be absurd and, before or after, there would undoubtedly have to be a commission, taking an eternity to discuss, even less to deliver.

If there was a will to go in that direction, then it would be obvious now. Devolution would evolve and powers would be granted gradually.

The arrival of Wales on the constitutional scene, through the enigmatic but very effective Prime Minister Mark Drakeford, surely gave impetus to this. But no relaxation of the muscles of the Union, quite the contrary.

This is why if Scotland wants to advance the constitutional debate, it will have to do so itself, and not hand over powers and a timetable to Westminster, as is the current position of the Scottish government. It is action that is needed, not esoteric debate.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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Home rule

Where Can I Find Fast Financing?

A number of people have the misconception that fast financing means they have to sacrifice quality for fast cash. In other words, fast loans will require people to pay higher interest rates and fees.

Fast cash is very good for people with urgent needs. If someone is facing a need for a large amount of money, fast loans can be quite helpful. If you are having trouble getting approved for a regular loan, you might want to consider fast financing.

Some people believe they need to be a certain age in order to apply for a loan. In reality, anyone who is at least 18 years old can qualify. However, some companies require a certain type of credit rating, which may be lower than your current credit rating. So, if you have bad credit, you may not get approved for fast financing. The best thing to do in this situation is to apply for one or two fast loan options.

However, some companies offer loans for those who have bad credit. If you have a high level of bad credit, you should definitely head to the bridge payday site and take advantage of their fast financing options.

Read all the information when looking for a fast loan

When looking for a fast loan, be sure to read all of the information. Many of these companies are reputable, but they may try to sell you something.

Before applying for a loan, make sure you understand what the loan is for. The terms of the fast loan are important. It is important to understand exactly how much the money will cost you. You should not sign a contract without understanding it completely.

With fast approval, you can usually use the money right away. If you are facing an emergency situation, it might be a good idea to borrow a small amount at a time. If you borrow too much at once, you may end up over your budget.

Fast loans are very popular because they help people in need of money

Although fast finance is not good for everyone, many people find them useful. They can be helpful when there is an emergency. Even though fast finance can be a little risky, if it is used wisely, it can be very helpful.

You can go online and compare the different companies. Compare the interest rates, fees, closing costs, and other fees. You can even apply to multiple companies to see if they offer a better deal. There are many different types of fast loans available.

One of the things you will want to look at is the interest rate. Interest rates can vary widely. Look at the annual percentage rates, which are applied to the total amount you will be borrowing.

Another thing to look at is the fees that are charged by the different companies. Make sure you know about fees for processing your loan, which include application processing, paperwork, and closing costs.

The best option is to go with a company that has a reputation for being trustworthy. Make sure you know how long the company has been in business. You also want to look at the reputation of the loan provider with the Better Business Bureau.

Make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into before you apply for fast financing. This type of loan is not for everyone. If you do not have bad credit, you may want to shop around. For example, some companies may offer special financing that will not allow you to apply for a fast loan.

Make sure you read all the fine print of the loan agreement

It is a good idea to know your rights, such as the right to repay your loan early. You should also know how much interest you will have to pay, and the type of collateral you can secure.

Make sure that you get several quotes from different lenders. You can even compare lenders at the same time. Getting several quotes helps you determine which one will be the best option.

Fast financing can be helpful for some people. Before you commit to anything, however, you should carefully consider all the details of the loan.

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Sovereignty

Mobile home community finds stability in self-government

One sunny, cold January morning, John Egan joined other residents of the mobile home park on a neighbor’s porch. They needed to organize. But how?

“I had to go to the bathroom, and when I came back from the bathroom, they said, ‘Hi! You are president! ‘ Mr. Egan recalls.

The half-dozen people had gathered to think about how to buy their Durango, Colorado park from the private owner – a move Mr. Egan and others saw as a blow in the dark. But now they had at least a president for what would become an interim board. With advice from a non-profit housing organization and majority support from the community, residents were able to purchase the approximately 15-acre property in five months. They celebrated with a picnic, as the new Animas View MHP cooperative joined a few thousand other resident-owned communities across the country.

Their achievement is unusual. The resident-owned market represents only 2.4% of prefabricated housing communities nationwide. According to industry experts, it is important to strengthen the health and longevity of mobile home fleets, as they are a vital source of affordable housing. Recent Colorado legislation provides certain provisions for communities like Animas View who hope to secure their future by governing themselves.

“Everyone sleeps better at night,” says Steve Boardman, here for 20 years, pulling out his refresher.

“We are in control. “

Affordable homes with a view

River, mountains, blond grass bleached in autumn – Durango mobile homes have a million dollar view. Largely motionless and expensive to move, these prefabricated units have been commonly referred to as “manufactured homes” since 1976. They are estimated to house between 18 and 22 million people in the United States.

“It’s one of the biggest sources of affordable housing in our country, and it’s very affordable without any federal subsidies.,Explains Associate Professor of Sociology Esther Sullivan at the University of Colorado at Denver.

The median annual household income of these owners – $ 35,000 – is half that of built-in-place owners, according to Fannie Mae. Manufactured homes occupy 6.3% of the US housing stock, with more than double that share in rural areas.

Many residents own their homes but not the underlying land, for which they pay “land rent”. This model can stimulate financial insecurity: these homeowners are “more likely to see their homes depreciate and have less protection if they fall behind on payments,” reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Media reports have increasingly highlighted private sector purchases of these parks which often result in rent increases, which housing advocates deem predatory.

Mobile home park investor Frank Rolfe says: “When we buy these properties, they are often in terrible shape, and [we] bring them back to life. … You can’t bring old properties back to life without increasing rents.

Mr. Rolfe estimates that he and a partner are the fifth largest owners of mobile home fleets in the United States. “There’s this conception, I think, that park owners are kind of hostile to residents buying their own communities, and that’s completely irrelevant,” says Mr. Rolfe, co-founder of Mobile Home. University, based in Colorado, which trains investors to buy parks. Three parks he co-owned have been sold to residents.

More owners

Mr Egan and his wife, Cate Smock, bought their trailer here in 2012 – an affordable move to Durango so their son could attend a better school. But subsequently, they saw the rent for their land, which includes utilities, increase every year, or even twice a year.

“You’d dread the piece of paper with the black electrical tape on your door,” she said. Residents of Animas View also complained about the previous owner’s lack of attention to their needs and delayed repairs.

Shortly before Christmas 2020, residents learned that the last owner, Strive Communities, intended to sell. Residents began to organize almost immediately. (The monitor was unable to reach Strive for comment.)

“We don’t tell people that it’s easy” to become resident owned, says Mike Bullard, communications and marketing manager for ROC USA, a New Hampshire nonprofit that, along with its affiliates, reports. having helped nearly 300 prefabricated housing communities become resident-owned. (ROC stands for Resident Owned Communities.)

With 430 households, the Halifax Mobile Home Estates Association in rural Massachusetts is the largest in the ROC USA network, owned by residents since 2017. The budget is tight due to the size of the community, the board chair said. administration Deborah Winiewicz, but at least the members have a say. on how these funds are spent by voting at an annual meeting.

“We have also found that people are more proud of the community because it is theirs,” she adds, noting that their sales office is run by resident volunteers.

In Colorado, the subsidiary of the Thistle ROC network helped the Durango Co-op raise the funds necessary for their purchase. But to afford the funding, the co-op increased the land rent by $ 80 this fall (the rent ranges between $ 755 and $ 825). While the hike may seem counterintuitive, it’s not uncommon, says Bullard.

“These groups are not only buying the real estate, but the business as well,” he says, adding that land rents for new resident-owned communities will generally drop at or below market rate within five years.

The sale, first reported by The Durango Herald, closed in June for a purchase price of around $ 15 million, according to Dan Hunt, a former Animas View board member who sits. now on the operations and finance committees.

Learning about the local community organization helped convince Kevin Miller to rent land there for his motorhome. Now chairman of the board, Miller, who moved in last year, says he likes the idea of ​​keeping money in a community.

“I’m proud to tell people where I live now,” he says.

Progress since failure

Among legislation to strengthen protections for mobile home dwellers, Democratic Governor Jared Polis signed a bill in 2020 that requires homeowners to provide residents with at least 12 months’ notice of a possible change in land use. It also gives residents 90 days after being notified by the owner of a potential park sale to make an offer to purchase and arrange funding. Homeowners should respect this “opportunity to buy” window before selling to someone else.

But the model belonging to residents remains the exception and not the rule. Animas View is one of three parks to become owned by Colorado residents in 2021, out of a few dozen that have changed ownership.

However, the new legislation “gives [residents] the opportunity to be able to compete with an offer they would not have seen before, ”says Andy Kadlec, Program Director at Thistle ROC.

Advocates say this legislative momentum was born out of activism and the unsuccessful attempt by residents of another Colorado mobile home community, Denver Meadows, to buy their park ahead of its scheduled closure as the owner considered a redevelopment . Despite help from advocacy group 9to5 Colorado and Thistle ROC, the Aurora-based community’s offer to purchase in 2017 was reportedly rejected. Although some landlords received relocation assistance, many ended up paying double the rent elsewhere, says Cesiah Guadarrama Trejo, deputy state manager of 9to5.

The Denver Meadows saga was featured in the 2021 mobile home documentary “A Decent Home” by filmmaker Sara Terry, a former Monitor reporter. His team hosted an event in Colorado in November that connected manufactured homeowners from across the country with activists, policy experts and former residents of Denver Meadows.

Reflecting on when she started the film about six years ago, Ms. Terry notes, “I had to talk about the ‘underreported’ affordable housing crisis. … [Now] people pay attention. I think popular activism is flourishing, and that gives me hope. “

Mr Hunt, one of the few Animas View residents who attended the rally, said he approached a displaced man from Denver Meadows and thanked him.

No threat of eviction

Just beyond the boundaries of Durango Park, a train slices through the mountain view with a harmonic blast. Current and former board members are keen to keep this community intact and, so far, residents report that no one has moved since the sale.

“One of the first things we decided when we got together as a board of directors was that we would not allow anyone to be forced out of the park due to an inability to pay rent,” former board chairman Mr Egan said in his home, where Christmas stockings hang above an electric fireplace.

To make sure people can afford to stay, the community is developing a rental fund. In addition to seeking outside funding, some residents plan to make cash donations themselves. Lindie Hunt, treasurer to the board of directors and wife of Mr Hunt, recently started the fund with a check for $ 60 – money she received for inspecting a neighbor’s home while she was away.

“It wasn’t my money in the first place,” she reasoned in her kitchen, getting ready to go to work one morning.

Beyond the repayment of the initial five loans, the community of 120 lots is faced with infrastructure projects, such as the wholesale replacement of the water and sewer system. To help reduce maintenance costs, many residents volunteer their time and skills. Mr. Boardman sometimes wields a weedkiller.

Needing to collaborate, residents also began to get to know their neighbors better. Surrounded by sawdust and screws, Kirby MacLaurin and Doug Harris voluntarily demolish a duplex that the co-op hopes to renovate for rent.

Although they’ve been overlapping at Animas View for a few years now, the men have just met.

“Since we created the cooperative, we have met for the first time. Isn’t that amazing? Mr. Harris said.

“That’s right,” said Mr. MacLaurin, hammer in hand. “Best friends… what a find. “

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