Saturday, January 28, 2012

Your Community: Les Baugh


Photo by Joe McGarity



The Fantom Penguin begins a new ongoing series today, introducing the community to people in important leadership positions.  This publication, as a matter of policy, does not endorse any candidate, but rather offers them an opportunity to share their stories in their own words.  This week:  Les Baugh, Shasta County Supervisor District 5.

“District 5 covers a small slice of Redding, goes down through Churn Creek Bottom, includes that entire area, all of the City of Anderson (not the zip code), all of Cottonwood.  It also includes, as we’re going to the east, Millville, Shingletown, Manton and Viola.”

“I had moved into Anderson.  I was a teenager.  I was managing a store for a man who had just bought an asset in the City of Anderson.  He wanted me to enlarge the building by about 25%.  So I had hired an architect on his behalf, an engineer, had all the plans developed, presented them to the City of Anderson and much like the stories people tell me when they come to the County of Shasta, I felt a very similar thing.  That I felt like . . .  Honestly, I felt like I was going to have to pay somebody to get the approval I wanted.   And this is back in the early 80’s, so you have to kind of put it in perspective.  Pretty soon . . . and I became a little bit more aggressive with that thought process, as I was sharing it very publicly with the community, that I wasn’t happy at all.  It seemed like it was dragging on forever and we were never going to get anywhere with the City of Anderson.  This man came up to me; his name was Jerry Voorhees and I believe he was mayor of the City of Anderson at the time and I remember him saying, he said, ‘Baugh, you have a really big mouth.’  And I said, ‘Yes, sir, I do.’  So, you have to picture Les Baugh in his twenties not in his fifties as I am today.  And I said, ‘So, your point is?’  And he says, ‘Well,’ he says, ‘you have been talking about the City of Anderson and our Building Department and you’ve been saying some fairly negative things.’  And I said, ‘Yes, sir.  I believe them with all my heart.’  And he says, ‘Well, how would you like to, instead of just complaining about the city, how would you like to change that and participate in it and have the opportunity to make a difference?’  And I said, ‘Well, what do you have in mind?’  And he told me that he had a Planning Commission appointment available and he asked if I would accept appointment to the Anderson Planning Commission.  He told me a little bit more about it and I said, ‘Absolutely.’  And over the period of the time from that appointment I was able to, I would say, effect some change from the inside.  It started there.  I think it led to a real passion, a discovery that I had an ability to communicate, to be able to represent other people, to make some positive changes.  Today Anderson is known as one of the friendliest entities for doing business, where I remember as when I was mayor of Anderson, we would embrace and say, ‘Come on in and we’ll help you discover how you can do business well here in the City of Anderson.’  I’d like to think I had a little part of that that started as a kid invited to sit on a planning commission.”


“Well soon after that, one of the men stepped down from the Anderson City Council, so there was a vacancy and I had worked fairly effectively on the Planning Commission, admittedly for a very short time.  They made a temporary appointment and placed me on -- I accepted the appointment to the Anderson City Council then.  And then I had the opportunity to run for office to confirm that position.  So my first public election was in 1982.”

The Fantom Penguin asked the Supervisor how the impending retirement of Congressman Wally Herger would affect Northstate politics.

“It doesn’t affect my position at all.  But certainly, Congressman Herger announced his retirement and as planned in advance, he endorsed Doug LaMalfa.  Doug LaMalfa intends, has already declared his public intent to run for Congress to replace Congressman Herger.  On the basis that a lot of people believe that he will be successful (and I’m not telling you that’s my personal opinion; I’m just telling you that is the common thought), then there are those that are already making advance decisions to run for the senate seat that he would vacate.  Now Senator LaMalfa is currently senator for Shasta County and we’re sitting in the middle of Shasta County.  But redistricting has created a new District 1 that includes Shasta County and Siskiyou County and it goes from Modoc County all along the eastern border of California down to Alpine County.  So you take all of the counties in between; you’ve got a dozen counties that are the new District 1.  That’s the senate seat I’m running for.  Now the overlap is I’m not running against Senator LaMalfa.”

The Fantom Penguin then asked him about his opponent in this race.

“Well, I’ll tell you my standard line is:  I try never to mention another person’s name than my own.  And I’ll tell you that I really, honestly from a personal perspective, have never run against anyone.  I run for the job.  I run for the people that I’ll represent.  It’s a different perspective.  It comes from my heart of representing people not in a competitive race for a job.”

The Fantom Penguin has extended an invitation to Baugh’s opponent to appear in this publication.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Underground Art Gallery Open Every Wednesday


Photo by Joe McGarity



Artist Charles W. Clark recently invited the Fantom Penguin on a tour of his basement level art gallery in Redding.  He told the Fantom Penguin how it came to be.

“I’ve been a working artist all my life.  I’ve done various different things to make a living.  I’m a sign maker, logo designer, photographer but I’m really an artist just trying to survive in a capitalist society.”

“I’ve always been interested in human kind as far as why we do war and warfare.  My dad was ex-military and it led to a real fascination about human beings working themselves up to the point of solving problems with bombs and machine guns.  I read a lot of books as a kid and got into seeing pictures from World War II of nose art and was fascinated by the fact that these young men were painting the female form on warplanes.  And it was kind of at an age where you’re starting to be curious about girls at the same time as I was seeing these them painted on these machines of death.  And it kind of really affected me that the female form was a symbol of peace because to me that message was saying that we would rather be home with our girlfriends or our wives than what was unfolding, all this killing.  And I just started drawing pictures out of magazines and doing what I could, but I was still trying to please my parents and trying to please other people around, in my world, so I drew a lot of wildlife art and things like that.  But my main interest has always been humanity and how to make it better, how to make it a different world, a more peaceful loving world where violence isn’t in the equation.  And I feel that the female form as a symbol of peace may help others come to that conclusion too, that it’s better to love thy neighbor than to kill ‘em with a gun over resources.”

Clark is also the proprietor of Advantage Signs located next door to the gallery.

“I’m glad I did commercial work first.  I really am.  I got into commercial signage at a young age, at sixteen.  I apprenticed for an artist that was teaching me how to draw with pencil at a very young age.  And then I ended up going to work for him in his sign shop and I found a niche that allowed me to be creative and make a living here in Northern California.  Northern California is a really hard place to be as an artist, especially if you’re doing something that’s not comfortable to the masses.  If you’re pushing buttons with your art, it’s a hard place to exist.  It was even hard to be creative in the sign world.  I had to fight very, very hard to get people to embrace something different than a rectangle and burgundy and gold.  I mean it was a lot of work to get people to see the value of being different and seeing what that can do for them.  And I’ve got to say working with other artists is just an immense tool to stay open-minded, not want to be the center of attention, not have an insecurity or have an ego.  You need to allow other ideas to come in and it will make your final product better.”

“I love working with Dusty and Burton and I’ve worked with a lot of artists on collaborations.  And it’s just a fantastic feeling to have such a freedom of ideas where everyone is just focused on the final product, to try to get whatever we’re creating to come off and be seen.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I wish all artists could do that.”

The Fantom Penguin asked him about making his work available for public viewing.

“Well, you know, it took me four years to build this place and I’ve had a couple of little openings here and there and I just got to the point where it’s full now; I have five guest artists, which I love all five of them very much.  And I thought, you know, I show it during the day when people wander in and I thought, ‘You know what?  Let’s just open this thing up once a week, every night.’  We’re going to do it different than a normal art show.  There’s going to be rock ‘n roll music playing.  It’s just going to unfold how it unfolds and I’m just going to open it up every Wednesday night from 5:00 – 9:00 and see what happens and give people an opportunity to come and share in the space and see what we’re doing, see how it is evolving, meet some of the artists, some of the models and just have fun.  Get together, have really fun music and conversation and have fun every Wednesday night from 5:00 – 9:00, why not?  Do something new, not a boring art show.  There won’t be classical music and cheese cubes and I promise that you won’t see a picture of the Sundial Bridge or a barn or a butterfly on a rock.  It won’t be anything like that.”

Charles W. Clark’s studio is located at 2444 North Bechelli Lane in Redding on the corner of North Bechelli and Grove Street and is open to the public Wednesday evenings from 5:00 – 9:00.




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Homeless Veterans May Get More Help

Photo by Joe McGarity



This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by TraderPenguin.com, an online portal to nearly everything with an emphasis on creators from the Northstate, TraderPenguin.com.

Taking full advantage of the new FreeThought Central facility, the Fantom Penguin sat down with Michael Wiley, a facilitator for the Shasta County Veterans Collaborative who told the Fantom Penguin about the organization and its goals.

“We meet on a bi-monthly basis.  Throughout the year of 2011 we were meeting at the Redding Veterans Memorial Hall.  We hope to shift our meetings to the community college.  We know there’s a large number of students out at the college that are veterans are we’re hoping to provide our Veterans Collaborative there.”

“We try to provide an opportunity for the folks that are working to support veterans and their families in our community.  We try to provide them an opportunity of networking, for meeting other people, for sharing resources and gathering ideas.  And we hope to provide stimulus for increasing the support for the veterans and their families in our community.”

“There’s some interesting things about our veterans’ community.  First of all, it is a relatively small part of the population.  Currently less than 1% of our population has served in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past ten years; less than 1%.  It’s a significantly higher number of veterans that have served overall.  But what we find is that it seems that even though it’s only 1%, those folks touch many other people whether it’s family or friends or neighbors.  So it ripples out and there’s an awful lot of people, especially in our community that are represented in that community.”

When asked if the percentage of veterans was higher among the homeless, Wiley suggested that it was, but not officially.

“And that’s the genesis of what we’re calling the ‘Housing & Resource Fair’.  It’s going to be held at the Veterans Memorial Hall on the 27th.  And that is that we believe:  That there’s a much larger number of veterans in our community than what the federal government or California state government reflects in their numbers.  So we’re hoping to increase that, and yes, we know that the majority of the people that are serving on active duty today are either from inner city or extreme rural communities.  So we know that of the Iraq/Afghan veterans now, the rural communities are over-represented in those numbers, so we expected that.  And that’s again; we’re trying to raise that census.  We’re trying to get a better understanding of how many veterans there are in the community.  How many homeless veterans?  Of course, the VA says that there are something like 200,000 homeless veterans every night.  And we know that we, in our Stand Down that’s held in October, we identified about 300 in the community.  And we don’t know that that’s just Shasta County; that could bleed over into the other surrounding counties.  But if we can identify somewhere 200 - 250 veterans, that means that we can draw a sizable amount of money into the community from the VA.”

HUD and the VA have put together a program to try and eliminate homelessness.  They’re calling these HUD-VASH (and I don’t know the acronym; I’m sorry) . . . “


“ They’re going to come to the community just like HUD vouchers do currently, which means that they will provide up to 60% of what it requires for a veteran or the homeless family of a veteran, 60% of what their housing expenses are.  That can include rent.  That can include mortgage.  That can include utilities, repairs, those kinds of things.  So the VA guarantees to a renter or to a mortgage company that the recipient of that voucher will receive that money every month.   So we’re hoping again to draw that into the community so that we can attempt to get as many of those homeless veterans and their families off the street as possible.  When we talk about homeless veterans, we want to make sure that people understand; it’s not just people that are living under the bridge.  If you’re living in an RV in your parents’ or your aunt’s or you uncle’s backyard, technically you’re homeless.  If you’re couch-surfing, if you’re staying in this person’s, this family member’s house for a week and next week you move into another friend’s house, you’re technically homeless.  So, what we’re trying to do is to reach out to those people that may just not be stable and get them into this collection of numbers so that we can raise this census and draw more money in.  If we get that money, it will include a case manager that will be managed by the VA to facilitate, to get that money out, to make sure that it’s used properly, so that it’s not wasted and there’s no fraud or anything like that.”

“If a person is a homeless veteran and they’re interested in accessing resources for housing, and that could mean city, it could mean county, it could mean federal resources, what we’re going to do is we’re going to ask people to come in and fill out an anonymous survey, which they will not be asked to identify themselves by social security number or their last name.  And that will give us the opportunity to present to the VA and to HUD that we have the increased census; we have more veterans.  But the other thing is:  We’re going to have some food available.  We’re going to have resources like Shasta County Citizens for Democracy that works with homeless people, that works with veterans.  We’re going to have a county representative of mental health programs, in case people are interested in accessing mental health services.  We’re going to have veterans’ resources like the County Veterans Service Office.  We’re going to have an attorney that specializes in veterans’ issues and Social Security issues.”

The Veterans Housing & Resource Fair takes place Friday, January 27, 2012 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm at the Shasta County Veterans Hall, 1605 Yuba Street, next door to the downtown Post Office.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Free Thought Encouraged in Redding


Photo by Joe McGarity



This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by TraderPenguin.com, an online portal to nearly everything with an emphasis on creators from the Northstate, TraderPenguin.com.

The Fantom Penguin, while tracking down locations to display his free newspaper, kept hearing about a new place on Bechelli Lane called FreeThought Central.  He asked Christine Mitchell, Chairperson of Shasta County Citizens for Democracy to explain what it is.

“Well, I think I’d start with our organization, our non-profit organization which is actually what is bringing FreeThought Central together.  We started a non-profit a couple years ago called Shasta County Citizens for Democracy.  And we’re non-partisan, but we do work on political issues and we decided we needed a place for our meetings, for other progressives to meet, kind of a drop-in center where people could feel comfortable talking about ideas, issues.  We could have meetings, films, pot-lucks, just an all-around place for progressives or anyone who’s interested in our philosophy or who would like to come and tell us about their philosophy.  We also hope to be a place where people can just stop by and read a book or sit quietly.  I guess you could call it a drop-in center.”

“We will have books for sale, used books and we also have books and DVD’s that we’ll loan out.”

“And we have a lot of different organizations that have come together and donated things and also that hold meetings here and it’s kind of a place for the progressive community to come together.”

“We are progressive, but I’m sure there’s things we agree with conservatives on.  But, no we’re not affiliated with a party, a political party at all.”

“Our grand opening will be this Saturday, January 7 from 10:00 – 4:00 and we invite the community to come in.  We’ll have refreshments and we’ll have some handouts about various things.  So, we hope people will come in and see what we’re all about.”

And if someone is interested in becoming more involved, how can they participate?

“They can participate by coming in and volunteering here.  They can join Shasta County Citizens for Democracy if they want to become real involved in political issues.  They can just come to FreeThought Central and all we ask them to do there is bring a coffee cup and put their name on it.  I should mention there is going to be what’s called a Veterans Resource Fair, January 27 and we would like for people to bring us canned goods that would be easy to open or hygiene kits and we’re going to collect those to give out at this Veterans Resource Fair, so that’s another way people can help out.  If you’re interested at all, come in.  Give us your name and email address and I send out notices about films we have, meetings we and other organizations have here.  A good way to find out how to get involved is just to come down and check us out and see some of our brochures and leave your name.”

You can find them on the web at sccitizensdemocracy.org or on Facebook as Shasta County Citizens for Democracy or drop by the new office and pick up a copy of the Fantom Penguin.

“If you’re turning off Cypress going south on Bechelli, you would go past the bowling alley which is on the left and right past H & R Block which is on the left.  You’ll see a building which the address is 2665 and we are behind that building.  You can’t see us from the street.  We’re 2675 Bechelli #3.”