Saturday, November 10, 2012

Block Ads on Amazon Kindle FIre HD by Opt-Out

It's easy to remove the ads on your Amazon Kindle Fire HD, simply log in to your Amazon account and click on the place in the top right hand corner of your account page where it says, "Hello (your name) Your Account". It's got a drop down arrow. Select: "Manage Your Kindle".

Then, in the left column of Category links, click: "Manage Your Kindle" under the Header: Your Kindle Devices.

Look for "Special Offers" Header. Click "edit" where it says, "Subscribed".

A pop up window will explain their advertising subsidy program where they have reduced the cost of your unit by $15 by adding ads to the screensaver and other places.

At point of sale, they also offer the option to pay $15 more for your Kindle Fire without ads in the first place. If you opted for the lesser price, you can still opt-out in your Amazon account if you pay the $15 + tax even after you purchased it.

Here's what the pop-up window looks like:

Remove Ads from Amazon Kindle Fire with Opt-Out Option
After you click the "Unsubcribe now with 1-Click" button, the area will say, "Unsubscribe pending". If you refresh the page a few minutes later, it should say, "Unsubscribed". You shouldn't see any more ads on your device's screensaver or any other special offered while using your Kindle.

Also, in order to save money, they stopped shipping the units with a charger. They now include a usb cable that you can attach to your computer to recharge it, but the charger you can buy as an option is much faster. They sell it seperately for $19.95, but I saw an option to purchase it when you're buying your Kindle for a discounted price of $9.95. That's a good way to go. I simply used my AC power charger from my previous Kindle Fire. They used to include it in their older version.

With other headers on this page, you can deregister your Kindle and give it to someone else. You should also go to the actual Kindle device and reset your device to Factory Settings. The new user will be able to register like it's never been used before.

You can also change your Send-To-Kindle email address, and change the name of your Kindle. For example, you could say: Joe's Kindle.

I find that with the new Kindle Fire HD, it's got highly desirable advantages like bluetooth, a far superior built in speaker system that is awesome. They now have dual drivers on each of their stereo speakers. With their new design, the sound comes through loud and clear even if you have your fingers over the speakers due to their improved wrap around design. Their new speakers are many times better when watching a Prime movie or Netflix movie. The older design just didn't cut it.

The HD model has higher resolution and is much snappier due to a faster dual core processor and downloads are much quicker too utilizing their dual wifi wireless connection. You'll find you can be much futher from your wifi router and still go to pages much faster and more reliable.

I'm having trouble watching YouTube videos, even when I go to the YouTube mobile section. They should fix that in their next update.

I love my new Kindle Fire HD 7". It's a big step forward.

Check Out All the New Features on the Offical Amazon Site:


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Debit Card or Secured Credit Card with Frequent Flier Mile Program

If you've got bad credit and you've lost your credit cards, you may find it difficult to get a debit card or secured credit card that offers a frequent flier mile program. However, all is not lost after I did some research. You can rebuild your credit with a secured Visa credit card with a powerful worldwide frequent flier mile bonus program by Korean Air SKYPASS.

It works similar to a debit card, but it's classified as a secure credit card, so rather than just having your account hit with a debit, it is simply billed to you based on the credit you've built back. The more often you use the card and pay on a timely basis, you'll be earning your way back to be a citizen. You are simply billed at the end of each month for new charges. The more you have on deposit, the more credit you'll have. Usage will also extend beyond what you have on deposit if you remain a good customer.

Advantages of Using Frequent Flier Miles Instead of Buying Retail Airfare:

If it's more convenient to fly out of a smaller airport near you rather than an extended drive to a larger airpost, then it's much easier and cheaper to do so with frequent flier miles. Typically, if you drive and park at a regional hub airport to get a better airfare rate, then you usually have the expense of driving there and paying a higher price to park your car in larger cites. So, the cost of driving there and the premium they put on parking offsets the discounted airfare, so you end up paying the difference anyway not to mention the inconvenience and added travel time of flying out of a major hub.

Usually, flying out of a smaller airport using frequent flier miles is more economical because they don't charge a premium for the commuter plane to a larger airport. When purchasing that additonal leg to your itinerary so you can fly from a local airport, it can add another third to your ticket price when simply buying the ticket at retail even if you're using a discount site like Priceline.

You have another advantage when paying your normal utility bills like electricity, cell phones and landlines because you get bonus miles when you pay your bills using your credit card. So, you're able to kill two birds with one stone. Since you have to pay for your regular bills anyway, why not rack up frequent flier miles to boot?

With the Korean Air Secured Credit Card, you not only access their flights, but you also can tap into their partner program to have access to using your bonus miles on a large network of other airlines around the world.

Korean Air SKYPASS Parter Worldwide Network:

Mileage accrual is available naturally via Korean Air operated flights as well as flights serviced by fellow SkyTeam carriers (Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Saudia Airlines, TAROM and Vietnam Airlines) and other affiliated carriers (Alaska Airlines, Emirates, Garuda Indonesia and Hawaiian Airlines).

SKYPASS Visa Secured cardmembers experience these essential benefits and features:
  • SKYPASS Bonus Miles after your first purchase1
  • 1 mile for every net $1 in purchases
  • Credit limit based on your deposit, from $300 to $5,000
  • 1,000 Bonus Miles at renewal2
  • $250,000 in Travel Accident Insurance3
Additional SKYPASS Visa benefits:
  • Redeem miles for reward travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners4
  • SKYPASS Visa card purchases help you reach and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership5
  • EMV chip technology for added security abroad6
  • Visa payWave technology for contactless purchases7
  • Use your card at millions of locations worldwide
  • Cash access at more than one million ATMs
  • Bilingual automated 24-hour account access
  • Bilingual customer service available
  • No cap on miles you can earn
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver8
  • Online purchase security8
  • Earn SKYPASS miles even faster with Automatic Bill Payment
  • Get your monthly credit score – at no cost!
  • Lost and stolen card reporting
  • SKYPASS Visa miles can be combined with your SKYPASS flight miles
Apply today! Here's how:
  1. Complete an application.
  2. Print and sign the application.
  3. Write a check for $300 to $5,000 made payable to U.S. Bank National Association. The check MUST BE a certified check, money order, or cashier's check.
  4. Mail your application along with your check to: U.S. Bank National Association ND P.O. Box 6363 Fargo, ND 58125-6363
Is a Secured Credit Card for me?

Yes, if you haven't had the chance to establish credit9 in the United States yet.

It's Easy, Safe, and Practical:
  • It's easy. All you need to do is send us a cashier's check, a certified check, or a money order with your credit card application (from $300 to $5,000) to open a savings account. Then, once you're approved, we'll send you a credit card. Your credit line will be the same amount as your deposit. It looks and works just like any other credit card when you use it at a restaurant or store.
  • Your deposit is used to open a savings account which assures your credit card can be paid. The money in your savings account is there to "secure" your credit line. The money in your savings account is FDIC insured and won't be touched as long as you make all of your credit card payments on time and your account remains open. Plus, you will earn interest on the money in your savings account.
  • Your purchases are billed to you each month. Payments are not automatically deducted from your savings account. You are responsible for making at least your minimum payment by the due date each month.
I sincerely hope this tip on how to get airline frequent flier miles even when you've got bad credit makes a huge difference in you getting your mojo back. I think the Korean Air Secured Credit Card by Visa with frequent flier bonus miles is a great tip because paying retail prices on airlines tickets will surely take a bite out of your budget. Now you can fly in style even when many consider you a second class citizen.

I believe US Bank issues the Korean Air Secured Visa Credit Card with the SKYPASS frequent flier bonus points. Please contact me with other options on my contact page: I hope this proves to be a great travel tip for you during hard times.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shopping for the Best Empower Network Sponsor?


If you dream of being a full-time Internet marketer, you'll quickly notice everthing looks shiny online trying to sell you this and that. You can go broke buying everthing.
I invested $50,000 my first year in trying to learn Internet marketing and at the end of the first year, I wasn't making anything. So, I want to shortcut your path to success if you are open. But, you have to be teachable.
After 3 years and well over $50k in buying courses, I became a full-time Internet marketer to the point where this year I was the Internet marketing consultant to a Presidential candidate. I have come a long way from my first stuggles.
I want to help you shortcut that process and save you time and money.
I have solved much of my challenge by plugging in to a system of Internet marketing training where the best of the best flock and show you step by step the path to online marketing success.
The shortcut is through the Empower Network, a system of training from Internet marketing millionaires who have gathered together to teach you how to market online in the shortest amount of time.
You can get started for as little as $25.
Not only do you have access to all the video recordings showing you step by step how the masters made it, but you'll have me on your side to make it even faster.
You can call me 24/7 on my voicemail or watch the video above where I reveal my actual cell phone number. Call me and change your life.
Glen Woodfin 206-202-8023

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SEC Shuts Down Zeek Rewards and the Owner Paul Burks for Running Ponzi Scheme

Everything I wrote below was based on rumors and speculation as of yesterday, but the situation for Zeek Rewards and owner, Paul Burks, has escalated to the SEC coming down on Paul Burks personally. He is in serious trouble. He's accused of running a $600 million dollar Ponzi scheme. Here's the CNN Money story:

 The SEC post on the closing of Zeek Rewards:
The biggest challenge appears to be the daily commissions were coming from new recruits rather than the daily profit sharing on their penny auction site. There are two chances Zeek Rewards will reopen: slim & none.

At this point, the is a civil action and not a criminal action.

The following was written the day of the news where I'm trying to make sense of the breaking story. It's still worth reading even after the breaking news update above.
I just got a call from a friend involved in the Zeek Rewards business that runs the Zeekler penny auction site and he said that the SEC has shut them down. No other details were offered. They were closed on the afternoon of Thursday, August 16th, 2012. I'll put up more details as I learn them.

Seems like it's too early to say the SEC is involved, seems like this is a North Carolina matter, so forgive the title of this blog post.

The rumor is that the North Carolina Department of Justice, the NC DOJ,  has simply started an investigation. No charges or specific accusations have been officially made, rather it seems like they are simply doing an investigation because they've received 8 formal complaints and 23 inquiries over the past year, so they probably just want to open the books and see what's going on because Zeek has been so secretive about the actual numbers with the field. Sounds like this action is a Civil Investigative Demand, rather than a specific finding.
More thoughts from Troy Dooly, an mlm advocate:

If you are involved with the Zeek Rewards business, probably the best thing to do is to sit tight and wait to find out what the specifics are.

Will they make it through this? It's way too early to tell. They are probably well funded and they have worked hard in the compliance area for the last 6 months to avoid their current challenge. Amway's been around for nearly 60 years and they are still getting lawsuits to this day, so it doesn't mean that it's the end of the road, only that there is a hurdle that must be crossed.

It's interesting to note recently Zeek's COO, Dawn Wright-Olivares, has been replaced. She has worked with the owner, Paul Burks, for many years, so it's hard to make anything of it except that it does shake things up a little. An new temporary COO has come on Board as a replacement.

I saw the following on the site:

Update R. S. Foreman :

I took the initiative to CALL Roy Cooper's office (the North Carolina AG, whoose office issued the CID), I spoke with Gloria in Consumer Affairs, who said their switchboard has been lit up since opening their doors at 8:00 AM. She spoke on behalf of the AG and their office, and emphatically stated that in no way did they shut down Rex Venture Group, Zeekler, or ZeekRewards; that their office did NOT confiscate computers, nor did they issue a Cease and Desist Order. They have not scheduled the administrative hearing yet, and are at this stage simply awaiting a reply from Zeek and Rex Venture Group.

My contacts say North Carolina has a history of attacking mlms. They say that they know that they can get money out of any rising star company so they go after them in a shake down hoping the company will simply settle and give them some cash. That's sad if it's true. 8 formal complaints in a year seems like small potatoes to me. Also, there is plenty of turnover at all State Attorney General offices, so what was done in the past doesn't mean that their present staff has the same modus operandi.

Troy Dooly says that a Supreme Court Justice was an affiliate of Zeek Rewards, so in seems wise to lay off your friends with ridicule if they were involved with the company.

With our country and states being broke, nothing surprises me in this hyper regulatory environment. Obama states repeatedly if you are successful in business, you did it because government was your partner and that you owe your success to the collective. Frightening words to a person raised with the American Spirit of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. His words roll out with Marxist overtones that scare the hell out of entrepreneurs. He basically says that he's going to punish success.

Little girls lemonade stands are being shut down countrywide saying they have to be approved by the governement and health codes. After the relentless raids of businesses throughout the United States with government SWAT teams coming in with guns drawn on innocent workers, a chill is in the air for small businesses.

Just one look at the videos on YouTube were Obama's goons raided Gibson Guitar with guns drawn on the peaceful workers just quietly making guitars which they have done for over 100 years and it reminds of the horrors of other free countries when taken over by those that promise a brighter future by playing Robinhood.

Watch this terrifying raid with guns drawn at a health food company called Rawsome Foods:
Now, even little girls aren't allowed to sell lemonade without a business license:

Obama's Administration has called for Executive Privilege to coverup Eric Holder and his Department of Justice's involvement in shipping guns to Mexican drug lords while making the false claim that his is the "most transparent Administration" ever. To date, no one has been fired for running guns to Mexico's drug cartels.
Other shocking stories came out this week where the Obama Admin says they will not go after criminal charges for Jon Corzine who can't account for nearly 2 billion of losses for gambling with investors' money. Not only that, but they said there would be no criminal charges for Goldman Sachs taking junk mortgages and repackaging them and selling them as AAA paper around the world. Fraud is written all over that, but if you are tight with Obama as a bundler or supporter, you are above the Law.

One last example that is alarming...Wachovia Bank was caught red handed laundering billions in Mexican drug cartel money and even purchasing commercial jets to help them transport into the United States tons of cocaine. The Obama Administration said there would be no criminal charges, only a slap on the wrist of a small fine. Bankers are above the Law in the Obama Administration though he campaigned on cleaning up Wall Street. Right.

So, bottom line, let's wait for the details to come out in the Zeek Rewards - Zeekler investigation. It appears that the closing of the doors of Zeek Rewards and Zeekler was a voluntary action of the company and not a government takeover. It is only an investigation at this point.

A Zeek Rewards alternative is this new Penny Auction Affiliate Program.

The Plot to Destroy America

Dr David Kaiser
Dr. David Kaiser
This was shared with me in an email...

History Unfolding

I am a student of history. Professionally, I have written 15 books on history that have been published in six languages, and I have studied history all my life. I have come to think there is something monumentally large afoot, and I do not believe it is simply a banking crisis, or a mortgage crisis, or a credit crisis. Yes these exist, but they are merely single facets on a very large gemstone that is only now coming into a sharper focus..

Something of historic proportions is happening. I can sense it because I know how it feels, smells, what it looks like, and how people react to it. Yes, a perfect storm may be brewing, but there is something happening within our country that has been evolving for about ten to fifteen years. The pace has dramatically quickened in the past two.

We demand and then codify into law the requirement that our banks make massive loans to people we know they can never pay back? Why?

We learned just days ago that the Federal Reserve, which has little or no real oversight by anyone, has "loaned" two trillion dollars (that is $2,000,000,000,000) over the past few months, but will not tell us to whom or why or disclose the terms. That is our money. Yours and mine. And that is three times the $700 billion we all argued about so strenuously just this past September. Who has this money? Why do they have it? Why are the terms unavailable to us? Who asked for it? Who authorized it? I thought this was a government of "we the people," who loaned our powers to our elected leaders. Apparently not.

We have spent two or more decades intentionally de-industrializing our economy... Why? We have intentionally dumbed down our schools, ignored our history, and no longer teach our founding documents, why we are exceptional, and why we are worth preserving. Students by and large cannot write, think critically, read, or articulate. Parents are not revolting, teachers are not picketing, school boards continue to back mediocrity. Why?

We have now established the precedent of protesting every close election (violently in California over a proposition that is so controversial that it simply wants marriage to remain defined as between one man and one woman. Did you ever think such a thing possible just a decade ago?) We have corrupted our sacred political process by allowing unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life, and then mainstream Marxist groups like ACORN and others to turn our voting system into a banana republic. To what purpose?

Now our mortgage industry is collapsing, housing prices are in free fall, major industries are failing, our banking system is on the verge of collapse, social security is nearly bankrupt, as is Medicare and our entire government. Our education system is worse than a joke (I teach college and I know precisely what I am talking about) - the list is staggering in its length, breadth, and depth.. It is potentially 1929 x ten...And we are at war with an enemy we cannot even name for fear of offending people of the same religion, who, in turn, cannot wait to slit the throats of your children if they have the opportunity to do so.

And finally, we have elected a man that no one really knows anything about, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, let alone a town as big as Wasilla , Alaska .. All of his associations and alliances are with real radicals in their chosen fields of employment, and everything we learn about him, drip by drip, is unsettling if not downright scary (Surely you have heard him speak about his idea to create and fund a mandatory civilian defense force stronger than our military for use inside our borders? No? Oh, of course. The media would never play that for you over and over and then demand he answer it. Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and $150,000 wardrobe are more important.)

Mr. Obama's winning platform can be boiled down to one word: Change. Why? I have never been so afraid for my country and for my children as I am now.

This man campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never, ever done in his professional life. In my assessment, Obama will divide us along philosophical lines, push us apart, and then try to realign the pieces into a new and different power structure. Change is indeed coming. And when it comes, you will never see the same nation again.

And that is only the beginning..

As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s In those times, the "savior" was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed; he edged his way onto the political stage through great oratory. Conservative "losers" read it right now.

And there were the promises. Economic times were tough, people were losing jobs, and he was a great speaker. And he smiled and frowned and waved a lot. And people, even newspapers, were afraid to speak out for fear that his "brown shirts" would bully and beat them into submission. Which they did - regularly. And then, he was duly elected to office, while a full-throttled economic crisis bloomed at hand - the Great Depression. Slowly, but surely he seized the controls of government power, person by person, department by department, bureaucracy by bureaucracy. The children of German citizens were at first, encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they were taught exactly what to think. Later, they were required to do so. No Jews of course. 

How did he get people on his side? He did it by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, and rewards for the military-industrial complex. He did it by indoctrinating the children, advocating gun control, health care for all, better wages, better jobs, and promising to re-instill pride once again in the country, across Europe , and across the world. He did it with a compliant media - did you know that? And he did this all in the name of justice and .... . ... change. And the people surely got what they voted for.

If you think I am exaggerating, look it up. It's all there in the history books.

So read your history books. Many people of conscience objected in 1933 and were shouted down, called names, laughed at, and ridiculed. When Winston Churchill pointed out the obvious in the late 1930s while seated in the House of Lords in England (he was not yet Prime Minister), he was booed into his seat and called a crazy troublemaker. He was right, though. And the world came to regret that he was not listened to.

Do not forget that Germany was the most educated, the most cultured country in Europe . It was full of music, art, museums, hospitals, laboratories, and universities. And yet, in less than six years (a shorter time span than just two terms of the U. S. presidency) it was rounding up its own citizens, killing others, abrogating its laws, turning children against parents, and neighbors against neighbors.. All with the best of intentions, of course.. The road to Hell is paved with them.

As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can either believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust); I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades; or I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another latte, and ignoring what is transpiring around me..

I choose to believe the evidence. No doubt some people will scoff at me, others laugh, or think I am foolish, naive, or both. To some degree, perhaps I am. But I have never been afraid to look people in the eye and tell them exactly what I believe-and why I believe it.

I pray I am wrong. I do not think I am. Perhaps the only hope is our vote in the next elections.

FYI; Peron did the same in Argentina.

David Kaiser

Jamestown , Rhode Island
United States

Snopes says that Dr. David Kaiser denies writing this piece. The original author has not been found.

David Kaiser is a respected historian whose published works have covered a broad range of topics, from European Warfare to American League Baseball. Born in 1947, the son of a diplomat, Kaiser spent his childhood in three capital cities: Washington D.C. , Albany , New York , and Dakar , Senegal . He attended Harvard University , graduating there in 1969 with a B.A. In history. He then spent several years more at Harvard, gaining a PhD in history, which he obtained in 1976.. He served in the Army Reserve from 1970 to 1976. He is a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department of the United States Naval War College . He has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon, Williams College and Harvard University . Kaiser's latest book, The Road to Dallas, about the Kennedy assassination, was just published by Harvard University Press.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Penny Auction Affiliate Program

Glen Woodfin, SEO expert, offers his assistance to make money from home as a penny auction affiliate. Call him at 206-202-8023 or look at his story on his blog:

Or go directly to the penny auction business opportunity at:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

City of Canyonville Oregon Retaliates Doubling Water Bill in Lieu of Taxes

City of Canyonville Oregon Slaps School Doubles Water Bill in Lieu of Taxes                                                   

Whistle-blower says it is now target of retaliation

Canyonville Christian Academy (CCA), the private school that blew the whistle on its city government, now believes it is a target of retaliation. While the city is apparently settling with other wronged churches and non profits it is making CCA the exception.

Two years ago, during an in-house audit, CCA stumbled onto the fact that it was being charged double water rates and surcharges on its sewage bill. The extra charges had been ongoing for almost forty years. The total amount of overcharges has been estimated as close to $200,000. When CCA confronted the city it was told that the practice was justified by a city ordinance that levied double water charges on all churches and non-profits "in lieu of taxes." They were also required to pay surcharges for sewer usage. According to some news reports, the government of Canyonville had found a back door way to tax churches and the tax-exempt. Curiously, the municipal code seemed to exempt mosques, synagogues, Masonic temples, and Jehovah's Witnesses kingdom halls from the sewer surcharges.

In June, 2011, CCA asked the city to stop the double charges. It pointed out that for years it was subsidizing much of the water bill for downtown Canyonville. But CCA's request was ignored. In October, 2011, the school offered to settle for a small fraction of the over-payments. By the school's calculations they would be letting the city keep almost $160,000 in improper charges. CCA's offer was refused.

Meanwhile, month by month, the surcharges continued. When the school asked one of the city councilmen, why the city continued to do this, he answered, "Because we can."

"I should point out that at no time have we asked for refund money from the city," says Roger Shaffer, a CCA board-member and spokesman. "We did not want to be a burden for them. We felt it could be resolved by giving the school credits toward future water use."

After eight months of seeking to resolve the situation and continued double billing by the city, on February 24, 2012 CCA sought to resolve the matter in court. Within less than 60 days the city responded. The school was allowed to have a sit-down meeting. "What confronted us was stunning," says CCA president, Doug Wead. "The city had consulted with three firms from Eugene, Oregon. Lawyers from two of the firms were present. We were told that the city ordinance calling for double water bills had been changed. Making our court test moot. And then we were given the bad news."

According to the new policies of the city, neither CCA nor any of the other churches and non profits in Canyonville will henceforth be charged double for their water but there would be new changes that would exclusively effect CCA. Beginning in June, 2012, each room of CCA's dormitories would be treated as "an apartment" or "condominium." Beginning in June, CCA will be paying almost double the water bill they had been paying before they blew the whistle. According to the school's calculations the new charges will likely amount to $240,000 over the next ten years.

CCA believes the newly announced increased charges assessed against the school are a retaliatory punishment for exposing an illegal scheme.

"I think it is important for people to know that we applaud the city for changing its policy," says Roger Shaffer, a CCA board member. "We also, just want to be treated fairly as well."

The city of Canyonville still insists that is policy of double charges for water to churches and non profits was legal. It offers no explanation for why, if it was legal, it has now abandoned the forty year practice and why it has sought settlements with $40,000 in refunds to other churches and non profits in the city. CCA says that it was been unable to find another city in the United States that has instituted a similar city ordinance, nor has it found any public official who will agree that the practice in Canyonville was proper. As to the new charges, which CCA believes to be retaliatory, the school says that it has not yet found another city government that treats rooms in boarding schools or university dormitories, without water or sewage connections, as apartments or condominiums.

On May 16, 2012, CCA asked to resolve the issue in mediation. It is still awaiting a response from the city.

A timeline on the Canyonville City Water Controversy:

A) In 2010 the present CCA administration was shocked to discover that they were subject to double water fees and substantially elevated sewer charges by the City of Canyonville and that these costs were imposed solely on the basis of our non-property tax paying status. Of course, these rate and fees structures also applied to the public school, churches, and others who were exempt from certain taxes under the law.
B) After due diligence and careful study, CCA came to the conclusion that the actions of the city were not allowed under Oregon law and our constitutional protections that provide citizens with equal rights and treatment under the 14th amendment. Our due diligence included talking with the Oregon Attorney General, a state legislator, multiple mayors from Douglas county, and a number of law firms. None of the many people we consulted advised us that city could devise a double tiered rate scheme for goods and services based solely on the tax exempt status of the academy and other water users.
C) In June of 2011, CCA filed a letter merely requesting that the city provide us with the legal justification for their rate structure and we briefly stated Oregon case law showing that the excess utility charges might be open to debate. We chose this route because of the complexity of the case, 40 years of overcharges involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possible constitutional law issues. For matters like this, we felt we needed professional legal counsel to guide us through the process.
D) The city did not reply to our request in a timely fashion. But after several months, we were offered a settlement that was equal to appoximately one half of one year of our peak excess charges. Given that we had presented case law that was not refuted supporting our position and that the school had been subject to the overcharges for a very extended period of time, the board of CCA felt the city setlement offer was not a serious attempt to fairly resolve the matter.
E) In October 2011 CCA made what we felt was a generous offer to settle the matter and avoid future legal costs for the city and the school. The amount was a small fraction of the overcharges of the last six years. The city council rejected our offer to resolve the matter.
F) In January 2012 CCA was presented a letter from one of the city's three law firms that have worked on this case. The letter clearly stated that the position of the city was they believed CCA's case had no merit.
G) From June of 2011 through the January letter of 2012 the city continued the double water billing and sewer surcharges. (These charges continued up through the April 1 statements.)
H) At this point we were still paying unjust charges and it appeared that the city contended these charges should go on forever, the city is not responding to the legal issues, the city does not acknowledge there is anything wrong with the ordinances, and the matter has seen virtually no movement in nearly seven months. Based on these factors, the CCA board felt they had no choice but to file suit and attempt to resolve the matters in court.
I) After many months of inaction, within less than 60 days after the suit was filed the city had repealed the ordinances in question and was now offering settlements to the seven churches in town, the South Umpqua School District and the other affected parties.
J) However, at the same city council meeting (April 16) where water/sewer ordinances were replaced, a new ordinance (number 616) was approved by the council members
that would reclassify CCA's three dormitories as if they were condominiums or apartment houses. This means that after nearly 100 years of classifying CCA as a school that included dorms as an integral part of our functions, we were now to be radiacally reclassified in a scheme designed to explode what the city would charge us for sewer fees.

Each dorm room is now going to be treated as if it were a full family apartment.
Like typical dorm rooms at the University of Oregon or Oregon State University, our rooms are essentially bedrooms with a study desk. Many of our rooms are for a single students and they do not have water going in or out, as a condo or apartment certainly would have.
15 of our dorm rooms will be charged $43.00 per month plus overage charges for use above 1,200 cublic feet per month. Each additional bedroom will be charged $27.02.
This means that a 100 square foot room at CCA will now be treated the same as a three-bedroom house with two baths.
CCA's calculations show that ordinance 616 will raise our sewer fees by an estimated $240,000 over the next ten years.
K) For 88 years the City of Canyonville accepted CCA under the definition of a school.

Just minutes after removing the unjust charges that CCA questioned, the city council voted to make our school a 60-unit apartment complex attached to a restaurant. (To be logically consistent, the city has notified us that our school cafeteria will no longer be treated as a cafeteria but it will be treated as free-standing commercial restaurant.)
L) Based on our historical useage levels, each CCA dorm consumes approximately four times what a typical equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) or home would use. Under the new ordinance, each full-sized dorm will now be charged sewer fees that are equivalent to approximately 20 homes. This means that our sewer rates will be roughly 5 times what a typical family pays for the same quantity of service. We believe that reasonable citizens will find this to be unjust and we also contend that it is likely that the courts will find it is not permitted by Oregon law.
M) The settlement offers provided to the schools, churches, and others cover only the last two years of overpayments, going back to June 15, 2010. However, CCA has never been presented with statutes or compelling legal agruments limiting settlements to this time frame. We feel a little like someone checking out at Wal-mart who has given a $20 bill to the cashier for a $7.99 item. We would like to have whatever change (refund) we are entitled to. And in the spirit of good community relations, we offered in October 2011 to settle for far less than our overpayments.
N) On May 16 CCA offered to the city to resolve the matter in mediation. This is currently under review by the city and we have not yet received an answer.
O) At no time has CCA ever asked for a refund check from the city. The school has always offered to accept any settlement the city might offer in the form of credits to future utility bills.
P) Spokespersons for the city have repeatedly indicated that the city was fully justified in their water & sewer rates and fees. With all due respect, CCA would point out the following:

1) The offending ordinances have now been replaced.
2) The city has now made more than $40,000 in settlement offers to the affected parties.
3) At no time has the city ever used the defense of naming other cities, water, or sanitary districts that have similar rate structures.
4) In our due diligence, CCA was unable to find a single expert that believed it was permissible to base a rate structure solely on the tax status of organization.
5) Had CCA not filed suit, it appeared to us that the city fully intended to carry these unjust charges indefinitely into the future.
Q) CCA understands that providing water and sewer service is an expensive proposition and we are perfectly willing to pay a fair and equitable share of these costs. However, board members have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the school from unjust and excessive charges. At this time our board members believe the many years of excess charges based on our tax status were probably unjust and the law may provide for redress. Also, we believe that the new dorm charges at least have some appearance of being retaliatory and they will result in charges that are vastly in excess of what would be justified by our actual level of usage.
R) This does not pretend to be an exaustive listing of the issues involved in this matter. There are a great number of items not referenced in the above list that will need to be resolved at some point.
Among these are possible errors in billing by the city, years of charges to CCA for a home not connected to the school, excessive sewer cublic foot rates for schools and churches, and multiple buildings on CCA's east campus use septic systems but are billed for sewer fees, and other issues.

Some Additional Information From a CCA Boardmember:

** In the January letter from the city and at the April 17 meeting with city lawyers and others, CCA was threatened with $53,500 in back charges for water and sewer fees that were based on alleged errors in Canyonville's billing.
These new charges may go back as far as 15 years,this is while the city is contending that non-profits are limited to asking for only the last two years of overpayments. We understand that matters of "statute of limitations" will be decided by law, but as a matter of equal treatment and fairness under the law, two years vs.15 years is hardly equitable.
** The city has had THREE Eugene law firms working on the case. Only two were represented at the April 17 four hour negotiating meeting with the city.
** When the city council passed a new water ordinance on April 16, along with eliminating the unjust double water charges, they retroactively (ex post facto) increased water rates on CCA and other property tax exempt entities back to March 15.
This rate increase (33.3% on both line and cubic foot usage charges) does not apply to other water users until June 15.
As this elevated rate is only applied to the property tax exempt users, the discrimination against churches, the public school, CCA, and others continues another three months.
** Because of the treatment of cubic foot charges, some CCA dorm rooms will actually be subject to highier sewer fees than a family of eight living in a four-bedroom house with 2 1/2 baths.
They will both pay a $43 base sewer charge while the home will be exempt from any cublic foot overuse fees, a fee we will be subject to on all dorm rooms.
** On Feb. 14, 2011, the Cow Creek casino & RV park had a water line break and the city provided them with water at no charge. This was reported in the March 21, 2011 city council minutes. There was no indication of the time frame required to fix the break or the number of cubic feet of water that was provided. The Cow Creek Band did not ask for any relief from water charges but the city council voted to provide the water at no charge "as a goodwill gesture."
When CCA went before the council in November of 2008 asking for relief on sewer charges related to two water line breaks, CCA's request was denied. As the water from the breaks clearly flowed into the ground and the city did not provide sewer treatment for this water, the payments to the city constituted a windfall profit. CCA asked for $5,000 relief and presented evidence of more than $25,000 in unearned sewer fees paid to the city.
** 30 days after CCA filed the letter of complaint in June 2011, the City of Canyonville quit posting agendas to their website. 90 days after CCA filed the complaint, the city quit posting council meeting minutes. This continues.
The city no longer regularly posts meeting and agenda notices on the website or the News-Review (the local daily newspaper). Citizens are now expected to check the post office bulletin board and sort through the notices for yard sales and misisng cats.
** We received the new water/sewer billing today (June 1) - and the city continues to bill CCA for the councilman's house.
** [This is based on a conversation during Memorial Day weekend between councilman Ed Parker and Pam Watkins, a former CCA board chairman.]
A point of offense to the city leaders has been that CCA first came to them through a letter from our legal counsel and did not come directly to them. This is a point of offense and may deserve a reply.
1) CCA believed the probems to be highly tangled (decades of overcharges involving hundreds of thousands of dollars and involving very complex legal issues - perhaps even constitutional matters). CCA's board felt their fiduciary responsibility to the school required them to obtain professional legal counsel.
2) At each step in this process, including this initial step, CCA is following the advice of counsel. For the board of a small school to spend thousands on legal counsel and then not follow this professional and experienced advice would be irrational.
3) When an officer of the Seventh Day Adventist Church & Elementary School, and a former official of the city, approached the city on several occasons over the past five years concerning the water/sewer rate issues, he felt the city was unwilling to take a serious look at his complaints.
4) When CCA approached the city for relief in late 2008 for massive unearned sewer fees, we found the city unwilling to even consider a token refund. But when the Cow Creek Band has a similar line break, the council voted to provide them with free water, even though the Indians did not ask for gratis water. The council minutes state "...the emergency water [was provided] at no charge to the tribe as a good will gesture."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grow Tomato Plants Upside Down with Topsy Turvy Planters

Click on Photo for Larger View

  Bed Bath and Beyond had Topsy Turvy upside down planters on clearance last Winter for $5 a piece. I bought ten of them and planted them this year inside of an 8 foot by 10 foot chain link dog pen to protect them from deer or anything else that might be a tomato fan.

Several years ago, I had grown nice big red tomatoes, but when I harvested them, it turned out they were all black on the bottom. I found out it was called blight and I was supposed to have treated them for that. I had no idea. I read somewhere that the upside down method reduced the likelyhood of the fruit developing blight. Other friends have advised me to add Epson salts to the soil as well as calcium to produce stronger stems and prevent blight. I watched a PBS show the other day that confirmed it. I'm much more comfortable using Epsom salts and calcium to fight blight as opposed to some chemical that I'll injest later.

Epsom salt is not like regular table salt, it doesn't burn the plants or the roots like sodium chloride would. It consists largely of minerals like magnesium and other trace elements and are beneficial to the plants and fruit. Some have recommended that I use lime or eggshells for adding calcium. I bought a bag of lime. I'll check what the calcium content is before I put it in the soil. Usually lime is used to reduce the acidity of the soil. I haven't checked the ph of the soil and probably won't since the plants seem to be thriving.

Also, it's recommended for bigger tomatoes to prune off the sucker stems. These are extra tiny stems that grow in the elbow of regular stems. Eventually they themselves can become large. The theory is that they take the plants energy to produce stems rather than giving it to the fruit. I haven't suckered my 10 plants this year, so we'll see.

The amazing thing is that as soon as you transplant the Tomato plants into the Topsy Turvy planters and give them a good watering, they start explosive growth in two days. Even lifeless transplants seem to grow like weeds in just a few days. They recommed full sunlight of at least 6 to 8 hours a day.

The Topsy-Turvy instructions say to water the plants daily especially during the hot dry season. Also, they encourage you to put appropriate fertilizer on them from time to time.

 I'll take some more pictures later in the season and especially when the tomatoes start ripening.

One thing I know for sure, there's nothing like a ripe vine grown fresh tomato compared to the green cardboard ones you buy at the supermarket.

One more interesting thing. You'll notice a distinctive smell around the tomato plants as you're working on them. It is memorable. Caring for them has been therapuetic for me and I highly recommend growing something. I've got ten terracotta pots growing herb on my porch this year too! Indulge your green thumb; plant something and care for it!

Feel free to add your tips and commnents as I've got a lot to learn about growing tomato plants.