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CENTRALVALLEY’S VALLEY’S VOICE OF THE PEOPLE — INNOVATIVE, INSPIRATIONAL, INSIDE MAGAZINE CENTRAL VOICE OF THE PEOPLE - INNOVATIVE, INSPIRATIONAL, INSIDE MAGAZINE Vol. 6 Issue 2 March/April 2011

www.voxpopinfluentials.com

US $3.50

FEATURE STORY:

JOE AlTSChUlE & TOm FIFE Politics in the Central Valley Whose Side Are You On?

Why Freedom Isn’t Free A New Charter School is Born Succulent Strawberry Recipes


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[ from the publisher’s desk ]

CENTRAL VALLEY’S VOICE OF THE PEOPLE - INNOVATIVE, INSPIRATIONAL, INSIDE MAGAZINE

In Harm’s Way

Publisher R.J. Latronico

Creative Director Jennifer Lingard

Contributors As I write this letter, our world seems on the verge of utter chaos. We still have an economic crisis to contend with here at home, a possible new war developing in Africa, and a massive clean up from a natural disaster unleashed by Mother Nature in Japan. American warships and aircrafts are now starting to bomb Libya, taking out radar, communication centers, and surface-to-air missile sites. The despot ruler there, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, has been at the center of all this, committing atrocities against his own people for some time now. If this new military conflict wasn’t enough, a historic 8.9 Earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Japan last month, causing six nuclear reactors to catch fire, explode or meltdown, partially. With all this happening, almost simultaneously, you have to wonder what in the world is going on and why. In the midst of this global chaos, our elected leaders, democratic and republican, continue to be at odds with one another. This is occurring here in California and in Washington, D.C. The battle rages on over taxes, national debt, unfunded liabilities, and big government versus small government issues. It’s one thing to hear a politician pontificate about these things, but it’s quite another when two local businessmen get together to do it. Enter Joe Altschule and Tom Fife. They have been debating what is right and wrong in America for quite some time now. Their viewpoints have been derived from many years of experience in their respected professions – Joe, as an attorney, and Tom, as a stockbroker. Few people know, however, that both of these gentlemen also headed up their respective local political parties. If you don’t agree with them, or if you believe there are better, more intelligent and rational viewpoints out there, then I’m sure Joe and Tom would like to hear from you.

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Despite their differences, Joe and Tom are friends. Maybe if our elected representatives were friendlier to each other, government just might function more efficiently. No matter which side of the aisle you are on, all of it is debatable. So, go ahead and find your favorite chair, sit back, relax, and enjoy this spring issue of VPI. On a final note, our nationally renowned contributor, Harvey Mackay, offers another opinion in this issue. This one I believe, needs to be adopted by every red-blooded American. While Joe and Tom’s viewpoints are debatable, Harvey’s is not. It’s spot on! Like Harvey, I am also a businessman who has realized the American Dream. In our society, we sometimes forget what has enabled us to live freely and pursue opportunities. If it weren’t for the sacrifices made by our valiant service people, we would not be free. Freedom isn’t free; it usually has to be fought for. As Harvey notes so eloquently, “We owe a great debt to those who have died wearing an American uniform, or lived to tell about.” Remember this on Memorial Day, May 30th, please. As always, I’d love to hear from you.

R.J. Latronico, Publisher

Alana Unger, Harvey Mackay, Kurt Eichsteadt, David Hummerickhouse, DDS, Emily Latronico,

Contact Information VOX POP Influentials Volume 6 Issue No. 2 March/April 2011

Advertising Sales Diana Tanasescu lacoads@sbcglobal.net www.voxpopinfluentials.com Executive, Editorial and Advertising Offices at: 100 Willow Plaza, Suite 410 Visalia, CA 93291 Phone: 559.636.2503 Fax: 559.635.9810 News, Projects, Comments & Letters rlatronico@influentialsmag.com Every effort has been made to ensure the information within this publication is complete and accurate at the time of publication. VOX POP Influentials does not warrant such accuracy or the claims of its advertisers. Vox Pop Influentials is published 6 times a year by Latronico Communications 100 Willow Plaza, Suite 410 • Visalia, CA 93291

Postmaster: Send address changes to Vox Pop Influentials, 100 Willow Plaza, Suite 410, Visalia, CA 93291 Subscriptions: U.S. - $17.60 yearly. $30.80 for two years. $40.70 for three years. Single copies from publisher are $3.50 to cover issue, handling and shipping. Canada and foreign mail rates on request.

Address Change: Please send imprint of old address from recent issue with new address and Zip Code to: Vox Pop Influentials, 100 Willow Plaza, Suite 410, Visalia, CA 93291


CONTENTS March/April 2011

From The Publisher’s Desk [2] These days we are all In Harm’s Way. What have we done to derserve this?

Wealth & Finance [6] Harvey Mackay:

FEATURE ON THE COVER

Why wait until Memorial Day to show gratitude for our servicemen and women? We should honor them for their service each and every day. Harvey Mackay explains that freedom isn’t free and honoring these brave men and women one day a year is not nearly enough. [9] Kurt Eichsteadt: Rich People Who Made It and What They Did With It Julio Lobo had a sweet thing going in Cuba until Fidel Castro came into power. Lobo controlled half of the 5.5 million pounds of sugar that Cuba produced. So, how could he walk away from his entire fortune? Kurt tells all!

[20] Joe Altschule & Tom Fife Here’s what happens when you take two local

Health & Wellness [12] Alana Unger: How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Are you still taking care of yourself? For those in need of some help, Alana offers a habit check. Follow her advice and then you can indulge in the three sweet and succulent recipes she’s whipped up using fresh strawberries! [17] David Humerickhouse, DDS:

Dr. Dave takes a dramatic departure from dentistry this month to tell you about his dream and the dream of a dozen other community leaders becoming a reality this summer. If you have young children in school, this is a must read!

Entertainment [28] Kurt Eichsteadt: Kurt shares his insight with us about some great DVD picks, including: Dilemma, Green Hornet and Biutiful (not a typo, but the orthographical spelling in Spanish of the word beautiful).

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businessmen (an attorney and a stockbroker) and ask them for their political views. Joe Altschule and Tom Fife are friends, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they exchange barbs with one another. Should more politicians be like them? We’ll let you decide.


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[ WEALTH AND FINANCE ] COlUmNIST

HARVEY MACkAY

Land of the Free Because of the For some, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, a long holiday weekend to head to the beach or fire up the barbeque. I sincerely hope that Americans attach a deeper meaning to this unique holiday. Lee Greenwood wrote a popular patriotic song a number of years ago with lyrics that are perfect for Memorial Day: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” Whenever I hear that song, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can live pretty much as we please, within the law, of course. We rarely stop to think about what we are allowed to say or do, or where we can go. We are free to make our own choices. What does this have to do with a column about business? Plenty! Our whole democracy survives because we have brave men and women who fight to protect our way of life. What we have in America simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. We all have the chance to study what interests us, work where we choose to work, take risks and fail and try again. We sell our products on the free market, hire from a well-educated and motivated

Brave

workforce, grow our businesses without limits if we are successful, and make a fair profit. We go to sleep at night knowing the morning will bring another opportunity.

and got down to business. We know them as the “Greatest Generation” - the men and women who took on big challenges and gave selflessly. Can we meet those standards?

We owe our freedom to those who are willing to defend it. As a businessman who has realized the American dream, I understand that the sacrifices of our valiant service people have enabled us to live free and pursue our opportunities. We take our liberty for granted, but as the saying goes, freedom isn’t free. We owe such a great debt to those who have died wearing an American uniform, or lived to tell about it... is one day a year enough?

I drive past Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis every time I go to the airport. The unending rows of white grave markers are a solemn reminder of the millions who have died for our country from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Here’s a brief history lesson about Memorial Day. In the 19th century, “Decoration Day” was started to encourage citizens to decorate the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the observance expanded to include ceremonies honoring those who died in all of America’s wars. The holiday became Memorial Day in 1967. Now, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. Touching and beautiful ceremonies are held at cemeteries across the country, and if you haven’t ever attended one, I encourage you to go this year. I guarantee you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of our veterans, and the ultimate sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our country. General George S. Patton offered his own perspective: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Over 400,000 American soldiers and sailors died in World War II. Around 1,000 World War II veterans are dying each day. These are the unsung heroes who saw action in Europe, Asia and Africa, and then came home

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I wonder how many of us could survive boot camp, much less wartime conditions. My worst day at the office will never compare to what our veterans have endured.

We shouldn’t Wait until MeMorial day to shoW our gratitude for our serviceMen and WoMen. We honor them for their commitment and service. We recognize their sacrifices, and their families’ sacrifices, that allow us to go about our everyday activities. Even those of us who work seven days a week still go home at night, unlike those on long deployments overseas. We shouldn’t wait until Memorial Day to show our gratitude for our servicemen and women. Yes, I am an unashamed flag-waver. I like it here, and I am grateful to those who have made my freedoms possible. Mackay’s Moral: Show your true colors honor our veterans. n Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 best seller “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” and “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door”


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[ WEALTH AND FINANCE ] kURT EICHSTEADT

COlUmNIST

Rich People Who Made It … and What They Did With It

JUlIO lOBO 1898-1983 A CAPITAlIST AND ThE COmmUNIST

INTRO Rich people can lose their wealth in a lot of ways: gambling, drugs, bad investments, etc. They can even lose it if they acquired it dishonestly like Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom, the Enron guys, and Bernie Madoff. However, this month’s rich man walked away from his fortune. By 1959, Julio Lobo had cornered the world market for sugar, built a fortune of $5 billion, pursued the most beautiful women of his time, collected the finest artwork, and had offices in New York, London, Madrid and Havana. By supporting Castro in his fight to take over Cuba, he thought he would be safe when Castro came to power. He was wrong. Julio Lobo died in Madrid in 1983 with less than $200,000 to his name, which is a nice amount of money, but considerably less than $5 billion.

BACKGROUND Lobo’s family came to Cuba in 1900, when he was two years old. His father was a successful manager of a merchant house A Young Fidel Castro

who arranged financing for farmers to grow sugar and then help them sell it. At the age of 11, Lobo was sent to the United States for an education. By 1914, when he was 16, he enrolled at Columbia University. For a variety of reasons, making sugar made big money. Observing this, Lobo, quit Columbia and enrolled at Louisiana State University’s Sugar Engineering Institute. After graduating in 1920, he went to work for his father’s firm, Galban Lobo. The sugar market was booming, but it almost immediately went bust. In the course of his career, Lobo would ride out a number of such wild swings.

hOW hE DID IT He worked hard. Most sugar dealers showed up at 10 a.m., took a long lunch, and left early. Not Lobo, he read and responded to 600 telegraph cables a day. At the age of 28 he began running the company and soon thereafter, pulled off the largest sugar deal in the world selling 150,000 tons of Cuban sugar to a British firm for $6 million. By 1932, it was time for another crash in sugar prices, caused by the Great Depression. Fortunately, two years later, in 1934, he was back on top. Lobo executed a manipulation cornering the market on New York sugar in a deal that made him $150,000 (which is more than $2 million in today’s dollars). In John Paul Rathbone’s 2010 biography of Lobo, The Sugar King of Havana, Rathbone quotes a Havana newspaper about Lobo “the new sugar magus who turns his knowledge into gold, and like a bull, holds sway over all that is bought and sold.” In reality, Lobo’s hard work allowed him to accurately predict where the market was going.

During World War II, Lobo expanded beyond buying and selling sugar. He started buying sugar mills, and by the 1950s, he controlled nine percent of Cuba’s sugar product, and other countries as well. Unlike other owners, he actually visited the mills in a car he equipped with a bed. He would sleep during the night so as not to waste daylight hours traveling. Unfortunately in 1946, he was shot three times in what was deemed robbery, extortion, or an attempt by politicians to send him a message. He was seriously injured— temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. Except for some brief visits, Lobo stayed away from Cuba for two years. By 1958, he owned a total of 11 sugar mills. He controlled half of the 5.5 million tons of sugar produced by Cuba, and financed a significant portion of the Puerto Rican and Philippine crop. At the time, he also was working to diversify Cuba’s one commodity economy (sugar) to produce sugar by-products including wallboard, newsprint, and plastics. That year was the beginning of the end for Lobo, although he didn’t know it: Fidel Castro started his trek to the top of power in Cuba.

WhAT hE DID WITh IT In 1959, Time magazine reported Lobo’s fortune to be $70-$100 million (more than $500 million in today’s dollars). His biographer, Rathbone claimed it was $5 billion, which is a big difference. Perhaps www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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[ WEALTH AND FINANCE ] COlUmNIST

kURT EICHSTEADT

Rathbone, with the luxury of more time, was able to more accurately measure Lobo’s assets. Regardless of how much money he had, he lived large. He was known as an art connoisseur. He accumulated the largest collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, which is housed today in Havana. Additionally, he is said to have courted some of the most glamorous women of his era: Joan Fontaine, Bette Davis, and Esther Williams. Although he was a little outrageous in collecting things and pursuing women, his personal life was Spartan. His biographer stated, “His bedroom had once been a reconstruction of his bachelor quarters from student days, with a simple wooden bed, a side table, and a solitary chair.”

mEANWhIlE, ThE POlITICAl lANDSCAPE ShIFTS Fulgencio Batista had run Cuba until 1944, when he left for the United States. He came back in 1952 and ran for president. Realizing he would be defeated in the election, while backed by the United States, he staged a coup, which put him back in charge. He ran a corrupt regime, did business with the Mafia, and mistreated his people. This sowed the seeds for a revolution, started by Fidel Castro in 1958. On New Year’s Eve 1959, Batista fled the country.

hE lOSES IT All After surviving for half a century, including the assassination attempt, he figured he could deal with the rebels. However, he was mistaken. By the time Castro took over, according to the book Fidel Fidel, by Humberto Fontova, the middle and upper classes just wanted Batista out. “We didn’t care who overthrew Batista,” said Lobo, “I’ll take complete chaos over Batista’s rule.” The book claimed Lobo bankrolled Castro’s actions and shortly after Batista’s overthrow, he presented the Castro government with a check for $450,000. After Castro took over, U.S. sugar refiners tried to weaken Castro’s government by refusing to buy Cuban sugar. Still believing that by helping the revolutionary government he could maintain his position and his wealth, he executed an audacious plan. After buying a massive number of sugar futures, and reserving all the space available on charter ships, he set himself up as the only supplier of sugar to the United States. U.S. refineries, even if they bought sugar elsewhere, had no way of getting it to their refineries. He forced the price up from 5.30 cents per pound to 7.58 cents. It didn’t matter. One year after he gave Casto the $450,000, he was summoned to meet with Che Guevera (the Capitalist and the Communist). He met with Guevera, who made him this offer: his assets would be seized, but 10

VOX POP Influentials

he could continue to run the sugar mills for the new government. The salary was “substantially less” than what he was used to. He then decided the business wasn’t for him anymore and left the country with nothing. He tried to start over, but success eluded him. He died 24 years later, not destitute, but with substantially less money.

lEGACY l The Washington Post said, “Fifty years after his departure, the Cuban sugar industry, regarded as the backbone of the company’s economy, is in shambles. Less than one-third of its mills are operational, and those that do produce, do so at a fraction of their previous productivity. As it turns out, the fates of both sugar and Cuba appear to be the same.” n

FOR mORE INFORmATION Fidel, by Humberto Fontowa Fidel The Sugar King of Havana, by John Paul Rathbone Washington Post Review of Rathbone’s biography, Aug. 15, 2010


www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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[ HEALTH AND WELLNESS ] COlUmNIST

ALANA UNGER, REGISTERED DIETITIAN

Take Charge of Your Habits. Take Charge of Your Health. We are now well into 2011, and your New Year’s resolutions are either becoming part of your lifestyle or falling to the wayside. Which is it? Are you on track and in charge? Are you taking care of your health? Here’s a chance for you to give yourself a habit check. Consider the following tips, and make sure you’re doing all you can to eat healthy, move healthy, and think healthy.

EAT hEAlThY Eat r rEgular mEals E Eals • Eat regular meals to keep your body fueled. Have healthy quick-grab options ready to go when needed. • Balance your meals. Fill your plate ½ full of fruits and veggies, ¼ full of whole grain, and ¼ full of low fat/lean protein (meat, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, soy foods, low/ no-fat dairy).

• Keep snacks small and healthy. Limit treat foods to small amounts eaten only on occasion. Drink all Day • Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of low/no calorie drinks. Look for options like water, flavored waters (diet Snapple, Crystal Light, Propel, etc.), unsweetened tea, etc. • Keep water and other drinks always within reach at your desk, table, or couch side, and in your car or purse.

mOVE hEAlThY Ex rcisE Daily (no-Excus ExE E Excus Es) • Have workout options in place that you can do with or without a gym and in any weather. Try some of these ideas:

Workout video. Walk/jog in place. Air-boxing and kicks. Jumping or standing jacks. Wall push ups or wall squats. Jump rope without the rope. Dance. Just move! limit lazy timE • Limit your time to less than 2 hours a day of TV, computers, video games.

ThINK hEAlThY only E Eat at if you ar arE E hungry • Before you eat, consider if you are just: Thirsty? Bored? Upset? Lonely? Are you just eating out of habit? If you aren’t truly hungry, do not eat. • Remember that food only fixes hunger, not emotions. Stop, drink, & think before you eat: try quenching your thirst and rechecking your hunger before you dive into eating. stop bEforE for you’rE forE you’r stuffED • Put down your fork, spoon, sandwich, etc. between bites. Completely let go of the food so that you can shut off your autopilot eating reflex and slow down. • Eat slowly. Take time to chew. Enjoy each bite. How did your habits check out? Are you on track, or do you need to refocus your efforts? Take charge of your habits. Take charge of your health. n

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d Strawberry Spinach Sala Ingredients: s 2 pints strawberrie h 1 package spinac Dressisng: 1/3 C Splenda ½ C vinegar ½ C oil n ½ tsp minced onio

¼ tsp Worcestershi ½ tsp paprika 2 T sesame seeds 2 T poppy seeds

re

essing ingredients Directions: inach. Combine dr sp ith w ix m d an s ill keep about Half strawberrie g. Extra dressing w in rv se re fo be st ju and add to salad erator. one week in refrig carb, 14 gm fat 2 gm protein, 13 gm l, ca 7 17 4 es rv Se

Strawberry Season... How Sweet it Is! Spring has sprung and a surplus of strawberries surround us in succulent sweetness! Here’s a few recipes to try – but just chomping down the fresh, whole berries works great, too!

Strawberry P ineapple Sals

Ingredien ts: 1 C pinea pple ½ C ma n go 1 C straw ber ries

a

1 T ginge r 2 T lemo n juice 2 tsp Sple nda

Direction s: Blend ing redients in blender u chicken o ntil smoo r other m th. Ser ve eat. Will Ser ves ab keep for u w out 8 27 p to 2 day ith barbecued cal, 0 gm s in the re protein, 7 f rigerator. gm carb, 0 gm fat

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Ingredients: 4 C frozen strawberries ½ C Splenda

1 C vanilla light yogurt 1 T lemon juice

Directions: In food processor, coarsely chop strawberries and Splenda. Combine yogurt and lemon juice. With processor running, add yogurt mix. Process until smooth and creamy. Enjoy! (If yogurt is too soft, harden in freezer for about 30 minutes.) Serves 4 77 cal, 3 gm protein, 17 gm carb, 1 gm fat

Freeze strawberries now... enjoy year around!

Strawberries are best frozen when dark red, firm and fully ripe. Remove stem and caps, wash and drain carefully. Avoid soaking in water to retain flavor and nutrients. Place berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet, freeze, and store in freezer containers or freezer bags. Great for smoothies and other treats all year! www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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Vox Pop Influentials magazine is hosting the first annual Lake Kaweah Trout Derby this summer (May 21 & 22) - a week before the Memorial Day weekend.

A portion of the proceeds from this Derby, a first of it’s kind in Tulare County, will be donated to the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Kaweah Flotilla 10-6.

For a nominal entry fee you and your family can catch some beautiful Rainbow Trout!

100 of these trout will be specially tagged as Money Fish worth $100, $50 and $20. One Grand Prize Fish Will Be Worth a Whopping $10,000!

To register to fish, check out: www.influentialsmag.com To become a Derby sponsor, drop us an email: influentialfish@gmail.com See our ad inside this issue for more details. Good Luck Anglers! 16

VOX POP Influentials


[ HEALTH AND WELLNESS ] DAVID HUMERICkHOUSE, DDS

COlUmNIST

Helping Children Succeed in the 21st Century Becomes Easier This August I’m making a dramatic departure from dentistry this month to tell you about something very exciting that I’ve been working on for the past two years. In August of this year my dream and the dream of a dozen other community leaders will become a reality in Tulare County. I have been at the forefront of a group to develop a special school. Not just any school, but a public charter school designed from the ground up to change the way kids are taught. Dr. Tom Wilson, an education administrator from Dallas, TX, spoke to a few of us about the success of a similar school near Dallas, called Life Schools. Terrific inroads were made there in the delivery of education and character development. Within a short period of time, this one school grew to several schools and its accomplishments became very evident to the parents and the community. News of this school’s success spread very fast. Life Schools’ triumphs became most evident during times of open enrollment. Parents then began flocking to the school — often camping out for days beforehand, just to have the first opportunity to enroll their kids. They hoped that the unique learning environment they heard about might also be available to their children. Such a positive, upbeat story was fascinating to me. I don’t quite remember how it all happened, but my enthusiasm for Life Schools deepened and I found myself very involved in the development of school like it here. Lucky for me, a few other community leaders felt the same way. Finally, a local school would be tailored to the needs of our community.

is eligible to attend your neighborhood school, they probably are eligible to attend a charter school. Additionally, charter schools employ credentialed teachers and students participate in state tests. The Charter Schools Act of 1992 gave charter schools the freedom to make quick and effective changes to respond to student’s needs. This is where the schools can really shine. They can develop focused missions and visions (with programs and curriculum) that integrate a unique philosophy. With some prompting by a wonderful book called, The Leader In Me, we took our school down the path of life leadership training, utilizing concepts from another Stephen Covey book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. From these concepts, we subsequently named our school, “Valley Life Charter Schools.” Our vision is for these schools to eventually encompass the K-12 grades. The Tulare County Office of Education has recently authorized us and we plan to open in August of this year. The definition of what constitutes a leader varies. One of Stephen Covey’s favorite definitions of leadership is this:

“Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”

and others are asserting, “It is the right-brainers who are taking over the present economy. They are the inventors, the designers, the listeners, the big picture thinkers, the meaning makers, and the pattern recognizers—those who know how to optimize and creatively maneuver the facts, not just memorize or regurgitate them. All this they do while knowing how to effectively team with others.” Larry Sullivan, former superintendent of schools for the Texarkana (Texas) Independent School District, points out, “Today’s students are no longer merely competing for jobs against students in neighboring towns, states, or provinces, they are competing with students in China, India, Japan, Europe, South America, Madagascar, and every island and continent in between.” Wow, that’s powerful. It really is so true. The world continually gets smaller every day. Just look at the Internet. It accesses nearly every backwoods area of the globe. In so doing, it reaches the people and their talents too. Okay, then why the 7 Habits? Well, if you’ve ever been exposed to the 7 Habits, you know how powerful these simple, logically arranged concepts can be—if they are routinely used and implemented. Many of you know about the 7 Habits, but how many routinely and consciously use them? Can you imagine the powerful impact these could have on a child’s life when they grow up understanding and using these concepts on a day-in, day-out basis?

“…just what is a charter school, anyway?”

This particular type of leadership training, along with a healthy infusion of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) is part of the basic mission of Valley Life Charter Schools. Our goal is to help children succeed in the 21st century.

“If children learned the 7 Habits at an early age…how different our world might be.”

I’m sure some of you have already had the question pop into your mind, “So, just what is a charter school, anyway?” Simply put, a charter school is a public school. It receives funding that same way a public school does – from the state and federal government. Therefore, it is free and does not charge tuition. Charter schools do not discriminate as to who may attend. If your child

The Leader In Me describes our developing future for our children this way, “…the individuals who are emerging as the new “winners”—the new thrivers—of the twenty-first century are those who possess above-average creativity, strong analytical skills, a knack for foresight, and—surprise, surprise—good people skills. As Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind Mind,

As Muriel Summers, principal of A. B. Combs School, the inspiration for The Leader In Me put it, “If children learned the 7 Habits at an early age, how different their lives might be, and how different our world might be.” Read through these concepts again and see if most of the character traits we want our children to possess don’t also emerge from these core principles. www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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[ health and wellness ] COLUMNIST

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david humerickhouse, dds


[ health and wellness ] david humerickhouse, dds The idea is to provide a “ubiquitous” approach to implementing leadership training. That is, leadership through the “7 Habits” is taught everyday throughout the day in every way. As Covey describes it again, “It isn’t one more thing for the teachers to teach. It is part of everything they teach.” Another important aspect of the curriculum at Valley Life Charter Schools is an emphasis on the Visual and Performing Arts. Unfortunately, many of these programs have been cut or reduced in size and scope in our public schools. Much of this has occurred because of the onerous budget cuts or a change in emphasis by the state or local schools. Valley Life plans to offer instruction in music, dance, theater, graphic design, 2D and 3D art, and backstage production skills, to name a few. The link between math and music skills has been touted in a number of studies. Valley Life sees the VAPA as a critical part of the development of complete, well-rounded students. At one point in The Leader In Me, a series of questions are posed. These summarize why I became so involved in this charter school development and why I think it is the right thing to do. The questions Covey asks are: • Do we as adults have a moral imperative to be teaching these leadership principles and basic life skills?

COLUMNIST

• If not, what do you think ought to be done to prepare them better? • What do you think are the most important things to be teaching them? • How would you go about doing it? I hope that in some small way this helps to inspire you to reach out into our community in a proactive fashion. There are so many needs. Putting together a concept like Valley Life Charter Schools has been difficult, but we did it. It has been a synergistic approach by a team of hard-working organized people. We still aren’t done. We can always use more help from talented individuals and community business leaders. If what we are doing strikes a “chord” with you, please consider helping us with your talents and resources. A little goes a long way.

• Is this the right thing to be doing?

For more information, visit our website at: www.valleylifecharterschools.com or contact us at: 761-1299.

• Do you think young people are being adequately prepared for today’s realities?

Your feedback and comments are important. Please email me at info@tularedental.com or call my office at 688-8069. n

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[ FEATURED STORY ] JOE AlTSChUlE & TOm FIFE

Red vs. Blue Democrat vs. Republican Haves vs. Have-Nots Where Do You Stand Politically? Before we embark upon today’s Vox Pop journey into the world of two local businessmen and their diverse political viewpoints, I would like to make a disclaimer: The views expressed in the following interview do not reflect the views of this magazine, or any of its advertisers. (Most people already know this, but I wanted to say it anyway, since these two guys stir up a lot of controversy when they get together.) Please keep one thing in mind when you read this interview, Joe Altschule and Tom Fife are businessmen, not politicians. A politician (from Greek “polis”) is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision-making. A person experienced in the art or science of government. Joe and Tom see things from the sidelines, just like you and I do. If you want an opinion from someone on the playing field, you might want to huddle with our team quarterback, Congressman Nunes. When Devin addressed those in attendance at the Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, he was straightforward and direct. When asked about the national and global issues we are faced with today, he said these are “dark times.” I think it is fair to say that the inclement weather we’ve been experiencing recently in the Valley will be with us, literally and figuratively for some time. If these truly are “dark times,” and there are “a series of storm clouds approaching that will overtake us in the next few years,” as Congressman Nunes says, I think we all may need to get out our stormy day/earthquake/tsunami/anti-radiation/heaven-helpus emergency kits. While you are doing that, say a prayer that the sun will eventually break through these clouds so that our political leaders may guide us back to prosperity. There has to be a silver lining somewhere in these storm clouds, right? Let’s hope and trust there is. richarD J. latronico In your opinion, is there anything now, that government (California & the United States) is doing right? JoE altschulE It would be a huge mistake to suggest that most of what government is doing isn’t “right”. Indeed, most of what governments do at every level works quite well. Starting with local government, we can easily see how public works, public safety, education, recreation, infrastructure, planning, everyday management, and the workings of government provide us with the quality of life that we all enjoy. However, the bigger government gets, especially at the State and Federal level, the more there is to manage. As a result, new problems occur and then it becomes easy to selectively magnify particular problems making them appear more significant than they actually are. 20

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It’s too easy to criticize government by seizing on specific problems and then blowing them out of reasonable proportion as a means of scoring political points. tom fifE Government does a lot of things right when it stays within the boundaries of the Constitution. When we move beyond our Constitution’s limitations, we destroy our democracy and reduce liberty. What is government doing right? That is hard to say. I once believed the U.S. military was incorruptible, but the Army’s denial that the Ft. Hood shootings were a terrorist act shows that political correctness has crept into military decision-making. That kind of thinking will get us all killed. What’s the biggest mistake you see government becoming involved in today? J.a. Gridlock. The existing rule that requires a 2/3 vote to accomplish budgetary reform in California really guarantees that nothing will get done. It sets up a tyranny of a very small minority that is incredibly counter-productive. Add to that the mindset of the current elected Republican legislators who favor so-called doctrinaire “party unity” over what is in the best interests of all Californians, and you have a recipe for continuing disaster. Gridlock at the national level plays out daily and is obvious to everyone. The resulting failure to take positive steps toward bi-partisan cooperation and reasonable compromise continues to be the stumbling block. Failure to work together will prevent or prolong any meaningful solutions to issues of spending and revenues, which, of course, give rise to most of our other problems. t.f. Government is overly involved in the lives of the individual. From invasive census questions, to playing Big Brother at school, and even in the homes we live in, it’s an ever evolving “nanny state”. Joe and those of his ilk believe they are better qualified to make decisions for us than we are for ourselves. Liberal elitists believe we are not smart. What makes it worse is how many citizens are OK with someone else making important decisions for them.


[ FEATURED STORY ] JOE AlTSChUlE & TOm FIFE If you had a magic wand that you could wave and permanently fix one thing that’s broken with government, what would it be? J.a. I’d like to be able to wave that wand and add significant IQ points to many of our elected officials. Seriously, the dirty little secret is that we have created a political system that is completely dependent on money to control and win elections. That influence of money will only continue to corrupt our system. If we find a way to keep elected officials from falling into the trap of being co-opted by the money forces that have far too much institutional power, we would be much better served and more would be accomplished. Just think how much more we could get done if politicians spent 100% of their time doing their job instead of spending 50% of their time raising money. By way of example, our local Congressman runs against token opposition, or no opposition at all, yet he raises huge amounts of money, often giving much of it to colleagues in other competitive races. t.f. I would do away with the Department of Education. Everything begins and ends with our kids. The politically correct nonsense that we visit upon them in the classroom often has its genesis in Sacramento or Washington. Leave the education of kids to the local community. Our kids are being programmed to adopt a left wing agenda on everything from acid rain to cross-dressing and gay marriage. Looking forward 20 years—describe what it may be like living in California in 2031? Why do you believe this? J.a. If we take the right political steps, if we avoid petty bickering and summon the will to work together for the common good, then we can see a society that has moved public transportation to the point where we are much less dependent on foreign oil. As a result, we will be able to travel and interact more easily with each other. Our State should have moved toward increased commerce with world trading partners, which will make goods and services more available to more people. Today we have only scratched the communication surface. In 20 years time we will not be able to recognize the advances that will have taken place in our ability to connect, communicate, and learn.

We will still have ongoing, mundane problems of water supply, providing education, assisting agriculture, and making our communities and cities livable. However, with the right leadership we can see improvements in those areas as well. t.f. I’ll be living in my home, but now I will rent it from the federal government. The government’s confiscatory tax policies finally forced me to cede my home to the government in lieu of taxes that were running in excess of 25% of my home’s value annually. Mine is not an unusual situation as 80-90% of all private property is now in the hands of the federal government. State governments failed a long time ago and defaulted to the fed. Now everything is federalized. States no longer exist. Public employee unions call all the shots. In fact, I am required to call a union member whenever maintenance on my rental home is required. Changing a light bulb is considered maintenance. I have been waiting a year to get a light bulb changed in my bathroom. If I do it myself I risk jail or a fine… With that same magic wand from before, in a wave, you could become any living politician you want. Who would that be and why? (President, Vice President, and Speaker excluded). J.a. Hillary Clinton because more than any other living politician today she is a force for intelligence, strength, and has a unique understanding of the geo-political machinations at play in the world today. She has the knowledge and the perseverance to be a force for peace and to deal with the shifting forces that will continue to cause realignment among nations. We are fortunate to have her wisdom and skills; she is really a national treasure. t.f. Donald Trump. (Don’t kid yourself; Trump is going to run.) I can think of several billion reasons why. How do you think we can improve relations between Democrats and Republicans and all the partisan politics that impedes getting things accomplished on time and on budget? J.a. That will only happen when we arrive at the point where we understand that business as usual will not work for us any longer. We need a paradigm shift in how we relate to each other. In this country, the political parties are not as far apart as they are sometimes portrayed. But the two sides cannot simply dig in and be completely unresponsive to the other. Policy based on spite and intransigent stubbornness will never lead to common ground. It’s really imperative that citizens take a closer and more serious look at what our leaders are doing in our name. It’s also a fact that the true majority in this country does not side with the more extremes of their party, yet the extremes capture far too much of the attention from the media. More rational leaders, more rational media analysis, less hysteria, and a public that supports that rationality is what is required to bring about that improvement.

Tom Fife Shaking Hands with Newt Gingrich

t.f. We need a new set of rules. First, no more labels. We use labels in place of debate. It is impossible to have a real conversation when we call each other morons and then fail to offer facts to support our assertions. www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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[ featured story ] Joe Altschule & Tom Fife tended to frighten people into enacting more and harsher penal sanctions, which statistically does little to change the safety equation. Smart policy changes and cuts are in order. 3 Inmates and Parolees: The response and reasoning to “Courts and Jails” applies with equal application here. 4 Public Pensions: While it would be foolhardy to take a hatchet to this area of spending, a scalpel is required. When things get out of proportion, there needs to be adjustments. When compared to the sums of money given away to corporations, which already pay zero taxes, this problem pales in that comparison.

When/if ever do you believe the Tea Party will evolve to become a viable third political party? Do you foresee another movement gaining popularity and becoming an alternate for voters ten years from now? J.A. The Tea Party is really the new label for the ultra right wing of the Republican Party. The hard right has been taken over by the Tea Party and the rest of the Republican Party is struggling with how to deal with it. The Tea Party is so far removed from the mainstream of this country that they will never be a winning electable entity. The real issue is whether the Republican Party can escape the clutches of their own right wing and remain viable going forward. We are seeing one of those typically rare shifts in a major political party. What will eventually doom the ability of the Tea Party to sustain itself will be its inability to articulate policies that most Americans can support. Their narrow and harsh concept of reality will not stand the test of time. T.F. The Tea Party is more of an idea than a viable party. The “idea” is smaller government, lower taxation, and more individual freedom. Call it whatever you like, but the Tea Party represents traditional American values. I hope those values will still be traditional in ten years. In a decade I believe it will still be Democrats and Republicans. Third parties do not prosper in America. If you had the power to make all the budget cuts needed to balance the budget, (in CA & US), rank in order of importance the areas that you believe NEED TO BE CUT FIRST assuming all cuts would need to include ALL of the following areas: J.A. 1 Corporate Tax Breaks: Number one. This is the most important move to create budgetary stability. It goes hand in hand with imposing what is real and actual tax equity in California, and in particular, nationally. We still dispense vast amounts of needless corporate welfare and tax giveaways for the very top of our society. There has been a considerable free ride here, for far too long. This has caused a palpable strain on the middle class, which is the real source of strength in this country. 2 Courts & Jails: This country has more people incarcerated than any other western democracy; we are doing something wrong. We have 22

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5 Funding of Redevelopment Agencies: While this concept initially had merit, it has become a device to redirect large sums of money to certain projects, which are of dubious value. When large pools of money are available, too many governments simply find ways to spend it without the application of critical thinking that gives citizens value for what is spent. When we look for fraud, waste, and abusive spending, this is a prime place to find top-heavy administration and often unchecked spending. 6 Funding of Business Enterprise Zones: I would rank this lower if there could be some assurance that all funds were spent wisely and all zones really were created in a way that served the initial purpose. 7 The Arts: We spend comparatively so little already on this area of our lives that it makes no sense to trim at all. When we deal with quality of life issues it’s often difficult to see immediate or graphic benefits; that’s not how it works with this life enriching part of society. 8 Educational Funding (K-12): This is another area where cuts would be foolhardy indeed. If we have a prime directive in our society, apart from military security, it is to provide the best education possible for all of our citizens. Of course, this requires that we spend available money intelligently so we get the most bang for our buck. While this area of spending has become a political whipping boy, it is imperative to maintain the highest and best levels of education possible because our future depends on it. The question really should be, as you get older, who do you want to be making decisions about your life and your circumstances? Well-educated people or marginally educated people? 9 Environmental: It should go without saying that if we do permanent damage to our environment, after a while, not much else will matter or seem as important as it might right now. Leave this strictly alone. 10 Health Services to Poor & Elderly: We have a social contract with the poor and elderly that is based on fairness and reason. To breach that generation compact and cut funding for the least among us would say much about who we are as a people and what our priorities are. Doing the wrong thing is never a good idea. 11 Public Safety: The only cuts to this area should be where fraud, waste, or abuse is discovered. These are the essential services that citizens demand and should continue to have, at the minimum at their current levels.


[ featured story ] Joe Altschule & Tom Fife 12 Parks & Recreation: This is another one of those quality of life issues that is more important than many people realize. Every effort should be made to maintain as high a level as possible to provide these important services.

Increasing “sin” taxes on items such as alcohol, tobacco, and on firearms and exotic weapons, along with other luxury items should be implemented. And allowing the Schwarzenegger tax and fee extensions to expire next year would be the ultimate folly.

T.F. 1 Inmates and Parolees: We do way too much for these guys and gals

T.F. Turn over every service possible to the private sector. Government must get out of the business of competing with and undermining the private sector and get back to the business of government. At the end of the day, allowing capitalists to capitalize is what works. The solution to our economic problems is the same as it has always been—free the individual and encourage and regulate collective greed. Do that and government will have more than enough money to operate.

2 The Arts: Art will survive with or without public money 3 Public Pensions: We do way too much for these guys & gals too 4 Environmental: We cost ourselves billions with silly regulations - ask any farmer. 5 Funding of Redevelopment Agencies: The private sector needs no encouragement when a development makes sense. If a development makes no sense why should the taxpayer pay to encourage it? 6 Funding of Business Enterprise Zones: Capitalism requires no “Enterprise Zones” 7 Corporate Tax Breaks: Depends…which ones? 8 Parks & Recreation: Quality of life issue. 9 Educational Funding (K-12): Loads of bureaucratic waste here. I was tempted to put cutting public education as my #1 pick. 10 Courts & Jails: It is a matter of public safety 11 Health Services to Poor & Elderly: Hey we’re talking about my mom here…. 12 Public Safety: Without these folks we have chaos and none of the above matter. What ways might you suggest to raise more revenues for CA? J.A. The first way to increase revenue is to avoid unnecessary spending. Finding where the fraud, waste, and abuse are, and and cutting it out would yield revenue. Part of the “waste” might include the duplication of services which exists just about everywhere in government. The Office of the Inspector General should re-double its efforts to identify where more than one agency does essentially the same thing, and pare it down. That would yield revenue.

How do you feel about Governor Brown extending for five more years the sales, personal income, and vehicle tax, initiated two years ago, in order to help balance the budget? (This proposed extension is estimated to offset $12.5 billion dollars of the budget deficit.) J.A. I favor Governor Brown’s plan for a vote of the people to decide whether to extend most of these already in place revenues. The Governor has already $12.5 billion in spending cuts to go along with an equal number of tax revenues. It is by far the most fair and reasonable plan proposed to date, in fact, there is no other plan being put forward to even discuss. T.F. That’s the wrong question. The better question is how do we grow a private sector that generates more tax dollars? We see the economic pie as finite but it is not. Politicians like Brown will never cut taxes voluntarily but Brown and others will cut regulations when pressed. Less regulation means less government and less government equates to lower overall costs for all of us. Even if taxes are not reduced immediately we can still press for reduced regulation. It’s not that we have too few regulations it’s that we have too many and excessive regulation makes everything more expensive, complicated, and slower. Would extending these taxes hurt economic recovery in CA more than it would help by driving more business out of the state? It is estimated these taxes would bring in about $9.2 billion more a year in CA. Over five years, the total is $46 billion.

A wholesale inquiry into tax breaks for corporations, many of them multi national, who just don’t pay their fair share of taxes is long overdue; that would yield revenue. It just might be that every single State agency should have its budget cut by 10 to 12% across the board. There would be much crying and screaming from those agencies, but of course it could be done with a minimum of actual disruption. That would raise significant revenue. Salaries of upper tier State managers and executives deserves a review, comparing their value to each other has created a false system of value, that would enhance revenues. Pensions and rampant “double-dipping” is ripe for review. www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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January 2010

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THINK MAY IN JANUARY The song says “It’s June in January”…but we Public Affairs Officers might

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By Harriet Howard NSBW 2010 is May 22-28. It will be the high point of our yearly publicity Special Assistant fortoNSBW campaign promote safe boating. In this new year we’ll have many opportunities, climaxing with NSBW, to talk safety to the boating public, keeping in

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NSBW 2010 is May 22-28. It will and be indeed, the high point of they’ll our yearly publicity them. During NSBW all during 2010, emphasize safe boating habits at PA exhibits, in talks to civic boating. groups and inIn their articles the media, example. In 2010, the safe boating watchwords campaign to promote safe this newtoyear we’llforhave many opporturemain the same:

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them. During NSBW and indeed, all during 2010, they’ll emphasize safe boating habits at PA exhibits, in talks to civic groups and in their articles to the media, for example. In 2010, the safe boating watchwords remain the same:

Take a boating safety class. Get a vessel safety check. Wear a life jacket when aboard.

By Harriet Howard Special Assistant for NSBW The song says “It’s June in January”…but we Public Affairs Officers might well think MAY in January. National Safe Boating Week, (NSBW), our busiest PA event of the year, is only four months away! NSBW 2010 is May 22-28. It will be the high point of our yearly publicity campaign to promote safe boating. In this new year we’ll have many opportunities, climaxing with NSBW, to talk safety to the boating public, keeping in mind the most recent Coast Guard statistics, a compilation of reports on U.S. recreational boating accidents and fatalities: In 2008 there were 4,789 boating accidents reported, involving 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and approximately $54 million dollars of damage to property. Over 2/3 of all fatal

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boating accident victims drowned, and of these 90% were not wearing a life jacket. Our PA Officers from New England to Alaska and from Puerto Rico to Guam, have their work cut out for them. During NSBW and indeed, all during 2010, they’ll emphasize safe boating habits at PA exhibits, in talks to civic groups and in their articles to the media, for example. In 2010, the safe boating watchwords remain the same:

Take a boating safety class. Get a vessel safety check. Wear a life jacket when aboard.


[ featured story ] Joe Altschule & Tom Fife J.A. This proposal would clearly help the State. This plan is the only one that even begins to move to a balanced budget. It would not have a significant negative impact on the business climate in California at all. We remain the most innovative, technology-based State in the country. We have the business brains, talent, financial infrastructure, and access to everything that is necessary for businesses to thrive. We have Pacific Rim trading partners headquartered here; ready to do business on many different levels.

flooding, emergency services, consumer protection agencies, enforcement of fair labor laws and anti discrimination laws, etc.)

Most importantly, the Governor’s plan would clearly demonstrate that California is alive and well, taking intelligent steps to improve our economy while saying we are open for all types of business and business growth.

T.F. I would like to see a flat tax. Dispense with all other taxation. If you buy nothing you pay nothing. You are free to save as much as you like. Whenever you spend money you pay your taxes. People at every economic level should pay. The problem today is 50% of the people pay taxes and 50% do not, but everyone has a vote. The Founding Fathers felt only property owners should vote; I believe only taxpayers should vote. If you put nothing into the system why should you have the right to say how tax dollars are spent? Everyone needs to have skin in the game. When you pay for something, you pay attention to how the product performs. When you pay nothing for government, you could care less about how much it costs because you are reaping the benefits for free. n

T.F. Yes, it is common sense that higher taxation discourages business. Higher costs of anything discourage business. If business can find the same thing at a lower price elsewhere it will seek out those lower costs and move if necessary. If this tax extension is implemented, should voters also be given the opportunity to enact a tax cut at an amount equal to or less than the value of the increase? Why or why not?

It’s very much like a pitched battle between optimists and pessimists. I prefer the optimism that says we can overcome our difficulties and fears if we work together and provide intelligent, non-hysterical approaches. If we do that, we’ll be all right.

J.A. Absolutely. What is democracy for anyway? If we can put other issues to a vote of the people, like same-sex marriage, why not our financial stability and well-being? Why some folks are afraid of a popular vote makes no sense at all. That kind of intransigence is borne of political nonsense and nothing more. T.F. Why would a tax cut necessarily be less than the value of the tax increase? That question assumes nothing can be done to reduce the size of government. I do not agree with that assumption. One method of killing cancer is to “starve” the tumor. Today, government is the cancerous tumor. If we are going to check government’s growth, the easiest way is to starve it is by defunding it. Is there any thing else you would like to add? J.A. We live in difficult times; we came close to a major depression, which we barely avoided by taking intelligent steps to stop it. Our State is experiencing the same sort of economic downturn as other states, and it requires bold and innovative steps to return to solvency. There is a huge debate going on about how to achieve that solvency. Some would have the country and states hunker down, cut all spending to the bone, and stop the growth that is essential to our well being. The greater part of that debate is between those who really dislike and fear government, and see it as interfering with their lives versus those who see government as providing important and essential services. Those who fear government miss the fact that we are the government. The government is not by nature an evil entity; it is only what we make of it. Government serves all of us; it provides the military, public safety, education, the social safety net, roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, means of communication, means of commerce, regulation to insure worker safety, regulations of financial institutions, and myriad other day to day activities that we mostly take for granted, (e.g., traffic lights, sand bags for www.voxpopinfluentials.com

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[ ENTERTAINMENT ] DVD DIARY KURT A. EIChSTEADT

DVD Diary Our job is to point out good films in order to help you avoid the ones that are a waste of your time and money. These movies are available now or will be soon on DVD, Blue-Ray, On-Demand Video, or for downloading.

thE DilEmma t mma Vince Vaughn (Ronny) and Kevin James (Nick) have been best buddies since college and, as their company closes in on a deal that would change their world forever, Ronny finds out Nick’s wife is cheating on him. Should Ronny tell? Would you? Would you want to know? Vaughn is his natural talkative self, although more serious than usual and James continues to show some real depth as an actor. 111 Minutes. Also stars Winona Rider and Jennifer Connelly. Directed by Ron Howard and rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content. This movie is not for kids, but just because they won’t really understand what’s going on.

grEEn hornEt After his father dies, deadbeat party animal Britt Reid (Seth Rogan) teams up with his late father’s assistant to become a masked crime fighting duo. Rogan co-wrote the script, so as expected, his character is a crime fighting doofus who would be nothing without his faithful assistant Kato. If you’re expecting a grown-up movie, you’re going to be disappointed. But it’s fun and highlighted by an over-the top villain played by Christoph Walz, from Inglorious Bastards. 119 minutes. Directed by Michel Ondry. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.

biutiful (In Spanish with subtitles)Javier Bardem was nominated for an Academy Award for his nuanced multi-layered portrayal of a Spanish minor league underworld character who moves dope, helps staff a sweatshop, and tries to raise his kids while dealing with a drug using ex-wife. Not to mention he is dying of cancer. It’s not an easy going film, but well worth your time for an emotional journey. 148 minutes Starring Bardem and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Rated R for disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use.

from thE EV Vault gEt shorty Elmore Leonard is the successful author of dozens of books, but the movie adaptations have not been great. However,

this is the one exception. John Travolta plays Chili Palmer, who smoothly makes the switch from organized crime to movies, finding that the skills of a loan shark come in handy in Hollywood. It’s elegant, sophisticated, and funny with a great cast including James Gandolfini.

DVD D Don’t bluE ValEntinE Despite a raft of award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Michelle Williams, Blue blu

Valentine badly fumbles the story of a young couple struggling to make keep their marriage together. Lots of promise is frittered away. The story jumps back and forth in time, but they didn’t have the skill or money to make the characters look changed at different times, which is confusing. Skip it.

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Vox Pop Influentials - March / April 2011