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Bad Economics Is Driving Out Good Science

January 8, 2015 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Bad Economics Is Driving Out Good Science

“The key to understanding [economics] lies in identifying the positive feedbacks and instabilities that lead to fast and surprising changes. These positive feedbacks are the most important elements in all markets; they’re not exceptional in the least. I’ll also argue that it would be utterly astounding for it to be otherwise, for instabilities, driven by positive feedbacks affect almost everything in the universe, from stellar supernovae to planetary ecosystems and our climate to the movement of the earth’s crust, and from the flow of electronic traffic through the Internet to the growth of cities.” Mark Buchanan [1]

A few years ago I introduced readers to the logical theorem ex falso quodlibet or from a false proposition, anything follows. If a logical system begins with a false axiom or assumption then no matter how robust the logic the conclusions can only be correct by pure chance; indeed any nonsense can be proved by starting with a false assumption [2]. Milton Friedman adopted this strategy to develop his neo-liberal economics by starting, in his own words [3], with “assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality.” Nobody should be surprised that denial of human-caused climate change is also based on bad assumptions. … Continue Reading

Turtle Soup

December 17, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Turtle Soup

“We can debate this forever. George Will had a column in the last year or so pointing out that in the 70s, we were concerned the ice age was coming. I’m not a scientist. I’m interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy.” Senator Mitch McConnell [1]

“There is no doubt that climate change, mainly caused by our material production and consumption activities, threatens human existence.” Ha-Joon Chang [2]

Senator McConnell made his statement in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board just before the last election. The editorial board asked McConnell several times what it would take to convince him of human-caused climate change. The Senator deflected each question with economic arguments until finally he made the reference to George Will, champion of the over privileged. The relevance of this quote is not the economy of intellectual content but what it says about our new Senate Majority Leader’s commitment to bad policy. We can expect that over the next two years Congress is going to do its best to make the problem of human-caused climate change that much worse. Thus the imperative for local action is even stronger. … Continue Reading

Measuring Irrationality

November 30, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Measuring Irrationality

“Irrational is a strong word, which connotes impulsivity, emotionality, and a stubborn resistance to reasonable argument.” Daniel Kahneman.

I admire the progress cognitive psychology and neuroscience has made in unraveling the workings of our brains. Since I cannot understand much of neuroscience, I make do with the cognitive psychology. A lot has been written about the irrationality of conservative Republicans especially in regard to climate science denial. Another new paper [1] by researchers at Duke University, Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay (CK), addresses this timely topic. Their hypothesis is that solution aversion motivates Republicans to deny science when the solutions contradict their laissez-faire free market ideology. They cite other research and only claim that solution aversion is part of the explanation. They accept the validity of other hypotheses such as the impact of conservative media or that “Republican’s cognitions are more motivated and threatened by negative information.” … Continue Reading

2 Degrees of Trouble

November 20, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on 2 Degrees of Trouble

“There are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy,” Pope Francis.

We have seen that the surface temperature is not just increasing but accelerating [1]. To do this we used the Cowtan and Way data set which includes the Polar Regions. As it turns out all of the official temperature records ignore these areas in addition to a large part of Africa and a bit of Brazil as shown in Figure 1 because no temperature records existed for these regions going back to 1880. The area that is included represents most of the Earth surface and is therefore considered an accurate representation of the entire planet’s surface when determining long term climate trends. As we’ve seen the other data sets, ignoring the Polar Regions, show that the surface is continuing to warm at a constant rate [2] when natural variability is accounted for. All portrayals of a slowdown (stoppage, hiatus, pause) in the rate of surface warming leave an unexplained gap of instantaneous warming in 1998 which cannot be explained by any physical mechanism [3]. The denier argument that global warming has stopped is an extreme case where the gap is 0.25 degrees C or about a decade and a half of warming [1]. Thus the only conclusion which fits all the data, including the Polar Regions, and which is physically possible is that the surface warming is accelerating exponentially. This is also consistent with expectations. The fact that climate scientists continue to discover additional evidence of the radiation imbalance such as the accelerated warming of the oceans [4] makes our situation that much more tenuous. … Continue Reading

Human Caused Climate Change is Settled Enough

October 23, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Human Caused Climate Change is Settled Enough

“[T]his peak-committed warming is increasing at the same rate as cumulative CO2 emissions, about two percent per year, much faster than observed warming, independent of the climate response.” – Myles R. Allen and Thomas F. Stocker [1]

“Mathematically, more uncertainty about models increases the scale of the distribution… Hence skepticism about climate models should lead to more precautionary policies.” Nicolas Nassim Taleb et al. [2] … Continue Reading

State of Sophistry

September 25, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on State of Sophistry

There is a particularly sophistic science-denial argument which has been around since 2004. This popular argument cites a paper published in the journal Science in 2003 by Nicolas Caillon and colleagues [1] and then badly misinterprets it. It seems unlikely that whoever originated the argument read or understood the paper and it seems equally unlikely that they expected anyone else to read the paper either because the Caillon paper contradicts the argument. The reason this is relevant to us still is that denier and forest ecologist Daniel Botkin used this argument earlier this year in testimony to congress [2]. If we first discuss the actual science and then examine the Botkin canard in that light, we can better appreciate its irrationality. … Continue Reading

A New Climate Regime

September 9, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on A New Climate Regime

(To be presented to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisor Public Input Session September 17, 2014)

Figure 1 shows the NASA/GISS surface instrument temperature record since 1880 [1]. I draw your attention to the fact that the coldest year of the last ten years, 2008, was actually warmer than every single year up to and including 1997. At the time, 1997 was the warmest year in this data set. This is true despite the fact that 2008 as a La Nina year and in the trough of the solar intensity cycle should have been one of the coldest years in the record. Not only has the Earth surface not stopped warming in 1998, we have entered a new climate regime where even our coldest years are now warmer than any years prior to 1998. We are literally no longer experiencing our father’s weather. It is just a matter of time, a few years perhaps, when we will be wishing for the cool weather of 1998. … Continue Reading

Dear Loudoun County Supervisors

August 27, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Dear Loudoun County Supervisors

We know three things with near certainty:

  1. Human-caused global warming is real
  2. The consequences of the business as usual scenario will be catastrophic
  3. Positive local action is required.

All knowledgeable climate scientists have explained this reality to us in great detail in tens of thousands of scientific papers and hundreds of summary reports published by every major scientific organization in the world. I cannot do better. … Continue Reading

The Gravity of Gravity

August 6, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet, Uncategorized Comments Off on The Gravity of Gravity

“Irrational is a strong word, which connotes impulsivity, emotionality, and a stubborn resistance to reasonable argument.” Daniel Kahneman [1]

“Plot idea: 97 percent of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.” — Scott Westerfeld, unknown source

In my last article I showed that the number one plausible argument in denial of human-caused climate change that global warming stopped in 1998 is false. In fact global warming is accelerating. Another convincing way to look at the data is to consider the surface temperature record shown in Table 1 [2]. The warmest decade since the temperature record began in 1880 was between 2000 and 2009, after global warming is supposed to have stopped. This decade was warmer than the previous decade, the 1990’s, by an impressive 0.2 degrees C, which is the largest change ever from one decade to the next. … Continue Reading

Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors

July 25, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors

For the Public Input Session on September 3, 2014

Excerpts from the following article will be presented to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on September 3, 2014 at the public input session.

“The vital signs reflect “the largest changes that we’ve been able to witness in the historical record,” said Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The planet is changing more rapidly … than in any time of modern civilization.”” NBC reporting on new NOAA analysis [1] … Continue Reading

You Too Can Be an Economist

July 9, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on You Too Can Be an Economist

“Wealth, as Mr. Hobbes says, is power.” – Adam Smith [1]

“[T]he fundamental theoretical and empirical assumptions behind free-market economics are highly questionable. Nothing short of a total re-envisioning of the way we organize our economy and society will do.” – Ha-Joon Chang.
… Continue Reading

Tol Tales

June 16, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments

“Organisms that make the environment less habitable will ultimately fail.” – Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker [1]

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

I was with a friend a week ago when a political ad appeared on the television. The candidate’s issue was global warming and his solution was a carbon tax. I said: “I don’t care if that guy is a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. I would vote for him.” To my surprise my friend said: “you are just like all those single issue voters you criticize.” I write about economic issues at least as much as I write about global warming and energy issues nearly as much as economics so I am at least a three issue guy. And if I pointed that out there may have been no further discussion. … Continue Reading

Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part Two

June 8, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part Two

“When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page [1]

It may appear presumptuous of me, an engineer, to recommend reconstructing economics but it is not for two reasons. First of all, it is not my idea anyway but is as old at least as the publication of Fredrick Soddy’s prescient Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt in 1926 and has a long tradition both within and outside establishment economics. Second, regardless of how many good economists there are, the most influential school of economic thought is Milton Friedman’s Chicago school of laissez fair free market economists, who were best characterized [2] by economist Paul Samuelson as “empirically dead wrong.” The destructiveness of their policies is well documented [3] and those policies are an important contributor to the Great Contraction of 2008 [4]. Given the number of economists who failed to forecast the 2008 economic contraction, economic models seem unable to predict even the obvious [5]. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015


“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015


Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015


– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015


Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015


By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015


– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015


– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015


Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015


Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015


Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

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August 2015

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck


Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event



Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Live Music: Connor Duffy at North Gate Vineyard

Ronnie Milsap


Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show


Live Music: Willie White at North Gate VIneyard


Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Lovettsville Historical Society Lecture: "Hex Signs: the History and the Mystery"




Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show


Creedence Clearwater


Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Emily Guagliardi Live at North Gate Vineyard


Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Notaviva Vineyards Monthly Bluegrass Jam is BACK w/Short Hill Mountain Boys

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


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View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015


Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Out?? A Summary Of Purcellville’s Sewer Debt And Strategic Solutions

1 Jul 2015


– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

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Artist’s Profile: Michele Sommers, Mural Artist – The Beauty Of Life, Evolving Over Time

2 Jul 2015


– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

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Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015


Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

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Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015


Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

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Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015


– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

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Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill


On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

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McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia


Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

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Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending


U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

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Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015


– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

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WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015


– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

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Mary Rose Lunde

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015


– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

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Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015


With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

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Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

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Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015


By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …



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