We Have A Problem

I have been working on this email about the ‘epidemic’ of police shootings of mostly unarmed black men and boys for two weeks. Every time I get ready to finish, another horrible tragedy happens, the most recent being the death of Freddy Gray in Baltimore, MD. I do not believe this is a recent phenomenon; it has come to light because of the ubiquity of smart phones and people recording these incidents. The sad truth is black people have been marginalized and exhorted by police departments for decades and it is only recently that we have become aware of these travesties.

Statement of the Problem

The real problem is white people are blissfully unaware of “White Privilege” and the social luxury it affords. Some folks tie themselves in knots trying to define or explain ‘White Privilege”, I remember Jon Stewart attempting to explain it to Bill O’Reilly on his show. Simply, if you go through your day; working, shopping, going out to eat, etc. and never think about your skin color….that is White Privilege. People of color go through their days very mindful of their skin color. When white people go out to eat, they do first think; “will I be the only white person in the restaurant’? When white people go shopping at a department store they are rarely followed by a security employee, when white people hail a cab, they get one…this is not the experience of people of color, especially black people. White people can jog or run to a movie in the night and not be stopped by the police: this happened to now former Attorney General Eric Holder; he was running to catch a movie when stopped by police.  There is no ‘driving while white’ but there sure is a ‘driving while black’ where folks are pulled over for no reason. In Ferguson, MO black people where ticketed for ‘manner of walking on the roadway’.

Images of rioting in Baltimore and the destruction of property in predominately black communities leaves white people scratching their heads, why tear up your own neighborhood they ask. This too is a social construct called ‘horizontal violence’ as explicated by Frantz Fanon.

Fanon was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, which was then a French colony and is now a French département. His father was a descendant of enslaved Africans; his mother was said to be an “illegitimate” child of African, Indian and European descent. Fanon became a psychologist and spent time in Algeria. He counseled the native victims of torture and the French soldiers who tortured. Interestingly, those who were tortured suffered far less mental problems than those who did the torturing.

In The Wretched of the Earth, published shortly before Fanon’s death in 1961, Fanon describes the cultural situation in Algeria; two population groups existed at the time:  the Dominant Group (white, French soldiers and those with governmental authority) and Oppressed group (native Algerians). The Oppressed group did not look like the Dominant group nor did they have any opportunity of being a member of the Dominant group. The Oppressed groups’ collective anger, fear, resentment, and despair had no outlet. The simmering tensions could not be expressed against the Dominant group and so native turned against native in what Fanon described as “horizontal violence.” I have witnessed ‘horizontal violence’ among predominately-white well-educated women, Registered Dental Hygienists, while I was employed by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association:  dentists are the Dominant group who control hygienists’ education, licensure, and employment. Consistently stymied in achieving their professional goals, some hygienists turned on each other…and wound up “eating their young”. My Master’s thesis was on the subject of horizontal violence among healthcare practitioners and included nurses, dental hygienists, and other predominately-female professions.

The Facts

Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI. On average, there were 96 such incidents among at least 400 police killings each year that were reported to the FBI by local police.

For example:

  • The shooting Death of Unarmed John Crawford
  • Police Shooting Death of Unarmed Michael Brown
  • The shooting Death of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles
  • The Choke-Hold Death of Eric Garner in New York
  • The shooting deaths of unarmed Sean Bell and Amadour Diallo in New York
  • The Shooting Death of Unarmed and Hand-cuffed, Face Down Oscar Grant in Oakland
  • The shooting death of unarmed Kendrec McDade in Pasadena
  • The asphyxiation of unarmed Johnny Gammage in Pittsburgh
  • The choke-hold police Murder cover-up of Ron Settles in Signal Hill
  • The Police shooting of Eula Love over a $22 water bill payment

A small sample of fatal Police shootings of black men since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO:

Feb. 23, 2015 March 9, 2015
A police officer shot and killed a naked, unarmed man who was knocking on doors and running and crawling through an apartment complex. The officer, Robert Olson of the DeKalb County Police, is white; the dead man, Anthony Hill, who was mentally ill, was black.

Madison, Wis., and Aurora, Colo. March 6, 2015
In Madison, an officer shot and killed an unarmed man after responding to a report that the man, Tony Robinson, 19, had assaulted two people, and had been jumping in front of moving cars. The police said Mr. Robinson, who was black, fought with and injured the police officer, Matthew Kenny, who is white.

Los Angeles March 1, 2015
Police officers shot and killed an unarmed homeless man who, the police said, had attempted to take an officer’s gun during a scuffle. Multiple videos of the incident on Skid Row show the man, Charly Leundeu Keunang, 43, who had a history of mental illness, fighting with a group of Los Angeles officers.

Omaha, Neb. Feb. 23, 2015
An unarmed man suspected of having just robbed a store was shot twice in the back and killed by an Omaha police officer

We are told these are isolated incidents.  We are told that they are simply the Officers procuring their own safety and if only the “suspects” had surrendered or obeyed they would still be alive today.

Every time.  In each case.  Police never get it wrong.  They never make a mistake, are never in a bad mood, have a short temper, may have been overly fearful and may have overreacted.  Because in nearly all these cases that is what we are initially told by Police sources and their supporters.

“It was a good shoot”.

It’s a familiar broken record

How often does that record get put on in the iPad when Police want to drown out the cries of an outraged public, until they forced to find out what really happened and it’s not anything like the Police initially claimed? How often do Police shoot and kill unarmed suspects who pose no real threat to them?  How often does this happen to Black People?  How often does it happen to White People? Or anyone?

The truly frightening thing is that we apparently don’t know.  We have no idea.  Not even a clue.  We’ve been tracking the statistics about Crime for decades at individual police agencies and in the FBI Uniform Crime Report, But those reports don’t document exactly when Cops become Murdering Criminals.  This fact – which has sparked police riots and racial unrest going all the way back to the 1960’s – is still a mystery.

According to Fivethrityeight.com – no one tracks this

Efforts to keep track of “justifiable police homicides” are beset by systemic problems. “Nobody that knows anything about the SHR puts credence in the numbers that they call ‘justifiable homicides,’” when used as a proxy for police killings, said David Klinger, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri who specializes in policing and the use of deadly force. And there’s no governmental effort at all to record the number of unjustifiable homicides by police. If Brown’s homicide is found to be unjustifiable, it won’t show up in these statistics.

If we want to know how many Justifiable Homicides occur by Police or Private Citizens we can get those number easily.

Justifiable Homicides:

Year     Police      Citizen
2007    398            252
2008    378            265
2009    414            266
2010    397            285
2011    393            260
2012    409            330

But if we want to know how many Law Enforcement Shootings are “Unjustified” – we get no answer from the FBI. None.
One source, in a report called “Operation Ghetto Storm” says that in 2012 that of the 739 “Justified” shootings shown above from 2012, 313 of them were Black.  44% of them or 136, were unarmed. 27% of them (83) were claimed by Law Enforcement to have Gun at the time of the shooting, but that could not be later confirmed or the “gun” was in fact, a toy or other non-lethal object. 20% of them (62) were confirmed to have been armed with a gun, knife or cutting tool.

This report, which was gathered by searching media reports, obituaries and even Facebook pages of deceased persons includes the following table as an example.

91% of the people killed by Police in Chicago in 2012 were Black? 87% in New York? 100% in Saginaw and Rockford?  I gotta admit even after focusing on this subject for over 30 years, since Ron Settles was killed, I find that kind of shocking.

The report goes on to say that 47% of these killings (146 cases) occurred not because of the person brandishing a weapon (as noted above less than 30% of them HAD a weapon, or were even thought to have a weapon), it’s because the Officer or Citizen – “felt threatened” and were in “fear”.  In only 8% (25 cases) did the suspect fire or discharge a weapon that wounded or killed Police or others while Officers were on the scene

Only eight (8) Officers were Charged with Murder, Manslaughter or use of excessive force in these case.

Is this report comprehensive? Is it fully accurate? I don’t know, it’s gone through several revisions and updates as none of the data is being officially compiled anywhere and some things can be missed that way.

And it’s not like some in the media haven’t attempted to divine the answer on their own, they have. http://www.colorlines.com/

This summer ColorLines and The Chicago Reporter conducted a joint national investigation of fatal police shootings in America’s 10 largest cities, each of which had more than 1 million people in 2000. Several striking findings emerged

To begin, African Americans were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city the publications investigated.

The contrast was particularly noticeable in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. In each of these cities, the percentage of black people killed by police was at least double that of their share of the city’s total population.

They analyzed the data from the Ten Largest Cities and in Every City – every single one – had double the number of black shooting victims than their proportion in the population.


Police Shooting Investigations

Almost all police involved shootings, while investigated by special units, prosecutor’s offices, or an outside police agency, were investigated by governmental law enforcement personnel. It is perhaps not surprising that more than 95 percent of all police involved shootings were ruled administratively and legally justified. A handful of cases led to wrongful death lawsuits. Even fewer will result in the criminal prosecution of officers. Critics of the system have called for the establishment of completely independent investigative agencies in cases of police involved shootings.

Where People Were Shot
Most Deadly States
California 183 total (102 fatal)
Florida 96 (49)
Illinois 64 (26)
Texas 58 (26)
New York 49 (23)
Pennsylvania 49 (23)
Ohio 45 (28)
Arizona 45 (27)
Maryland 41 (16)
Washington 39 (29)

Least Deadly States
Delaware 0
Vermont 0
North Dakota 1
Wyoming 2 (1)
Alaska 2 (2)
Montana 3 (2)
South Dakota 3 (3)
Hawaii 4 (3)
Connecticut 6 (1)
West Virginia 6 (5)
New Hampshire 6 (5)
Idaho 7 (2)
Kansas 7 (5)

Most Deadly Cities
Chicago 46 total (10 fatal)
Los Angeles 22 (14)
Philadelphia 17 (7)
Las Vegas 17 (15)
New York City 16 (6)
Phoenix 15 (10)
Baltimore 15 (5)
Columbus, OH 14 (8)
Atlanta 12 (4)
St. Louis 11 (3)
Cleveland 10 (7)
Miami 10 (6)
Houston 10 (3)

Least Deadly Cities
Boston 1
New Orleans 1 (1)
Portland, ME 1
Buffalo 2
Detroit 2 (1)
Seattle 2 (1)
Denver 2 (2)
Pittsburgh 3 (1)

Cities with High Per Capita Shooting Rates
Fresno, CA 9 total (4 fatal)
Tucson, AZ 8 (6)
Aurora, CO 7 (6)
Oakland, CA 7 (6)
San Jose, CA 7 (3)
Albuquerque, NM 6 (5)
Mesa, AZ 6 (2)
Jacksonville, FL 5 (4)
Syracuse, NY 5 (3)
Orlando, FL 5 (2)
Miami Beach, FL 5 (2)
Little Rock, Ark. 5 (1)
Yakima, WA 4 (1)
Bakersfield, CA 4 (3)
Long Beach, CA 4 (2)
Garden Grove, CA 4 (3)
Redding, CA 4 (2)

Missing Black Men

Sometimes a report is released that defies imagination. The worst thing about the report in the New York Times this morning may be how unsurprising it is, despite how heart-wrenching it is.

They [black men] are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.

Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.

A snapshot in time that shows that 17% of black men have been disappeared from the population compared to 1% of white men is jarring, scandalous. Benghazi is a scandal? Complete bullshit. This is scandalous. Of course, because we’re not racist here in America, we don’t have to — and mostly won’t — do anything about it. One city among the worst in America for this “missing” effect? Ferguson, MO, which now has at least one more missing, Michael Brown. It doesn’t matter whether his hands were up before he was shot. What matters is he lived in a world where he was likely to be disappeared. And he was. Policy note. If you think that Democrats are more likely to do something about this — however slight the difference — than Republicans are, then this is a reason to support the Democrats. Just saying.


The Criminal-Legal System

The facts about the criminal-legal system in America are sobering: The United States accounts for only 5 percent of the globe’s population, but for 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

We lead the world not in science and math education, college graduation or childhood health — but in the total number of people we incarcerate. We imprison more people than China, Russia, and India.

The United States not only has the highest incarceration rate in the world, but our prison populations are disproportionately comprised of Americans of color.

Despite African Americans and Latinos committing drug offenses at a rate no different than whites, African Americans are incarcerated at a rate six times greater than whites, and Latinos are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of whites for the same offenses.

In my home state of New Jersey, African Americans comprise 13.7 percent of the total population, but 62 percent of the state’s prison population.

In the United States, African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for selling or possessing drugs, even though studies have shown that African Americans and whites use drugs at the same rate, and whites are actually more likely to sell drugs.

Similarly, Latinos and whites use drugs at equal rates proportionate to their populations, but Latinos are twice as likely as whites to be admitted to state prison for drug use.

Even once released from prison, formerly incarcerated people are often denied the right to vote, to go back to school, and to get a job.


Additional Reading

Killing the Future: The Theft of Black Life

Nicholas Powers, Truthout: “To be Black in America is to be evidence of a theft… When cops bully them, scare them, f*** with them, it’s because our children aren’t seen as part of the future. Our children are disposable.”

Read the Article

The Collateral Damage of Mass Incarceration

Bryan Stevenson, Spiegel & Grau: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is about getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in the US. We have created a new caste system that forces thousands into homelessness, bans them from living with their families and in their communities and renders them virtually unemployable.

Read the Excerpt

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King 

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” Martin Luther King

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” Martin Luther King

*The information compiled in this article is from multiple sources; references available upon request.

Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D
President LMFDC

2015 Yard Sale

Our 7th Annual Yard Sale was a smashing success! Huge thanks to Carol and Cy Perkins for opening their home for a whole week, you are awesome!

We had hundreds of donations and our Yard Sale Team, chaired by Mary Jane Tanquary and Suzy Perkins, did a spectacular job! We made more $ than last year. The Final Total will be revealed at our Wednesday, May 6th Monthly Meeting.

Carol, Cy, Suzy and Gary
Carol, Cy, Suzy and Gary
Yard Sale opening
Yard Sale opening
Mary Jane and Jennifer at the Garden Station
Mary Jane and Jennifer at the Garden Station

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SDCDP Chair, Francine Busby
SDCDP Chair, Francine Busby

Congratulations to East Area Vice Chair, Eric Hereford, and Caucus member, Charlotte Reed, for a fantastic event:  A Taste of the Blue Life 2, held Sunday at San Pasqual Winery in La Mesa. Democrats enjoyed the wonderful wine, terrific appetizers, and a good old Rock and Roll band.

Old Skool
Old Skool

Our next Fundraiser will be on June 27, at the home of Stu Strenger in La Mesa.

Assemblywoman, Dr. Shirley Weber
Assemblywoman, Dr. Shirley Weber
Vice Chair, Eric Hereford
Vice Chair, Eric Hereford

Veteran Peace Activist and Author

Veteran Peace Activist and Author

 to Headline May Meeting for Local Dems

7th Annual Yard Sale also on May Calendar

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, with members from San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Grantville, Del Cerro, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Spring Valley, Santee and other East County areas will be holding a very memorable meeting on Wednesday night, May 6th.

Our speaker will be Peggi Chute, author of “Soul of a Nation:  A Historical Novel About Selma.”  She published the book in time for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and attended the recent Commemoration of the Pettus Bridge crossing in Selma.  Peggi will have copies of the book available for autograph and sale.

Peggi is a life-long activist for peace and social justice.  After the Columbine, Colorado mass shootings, Peggi created the Teaching Peace Project for the Council of Churches and Synagogues in Stamford, Conn.  She served as its director and taught the program in three school districts.  She served on Mayor Dannel Malloy’s Council on Youth (he’s now Governor of Connecticut), and also ran a workshop at the first United Nations NGO conference at the UN in New York.

Peggi now lives in Lake San Marcos and has been a San Diego County resident for 4 years.  She’s a proud UCLA graduate in Film Studies and was a film editor in Hollywood for a number of years.  She’s also lived in the Monterey Peninsula area where she taught music and worked for Planned Parenthood as an Outreach Educator.  Don’t miss her presentation and buy a book to take home.

Several days prior to our May 6th meeting, LMFDC will hold it’s now famous and very popular YARD SALE.  On Saturday, May 2nd, from 8 AM-1 PM, scores of bargain hunters will descend on 5009 Randlett Dr. in La Mesa.  Our sale is known for its quality and quantity of unique items as our members have saved special merchandise just for this sale!  If you have goods that you would like to donate to our sale, please contact Mary Jane Tanquary at 619 818-5883.  Goods must be in clean, saleable condition and easily transportable.  Help contribute to our popular sale as either a buyer or contributor.  Please don’t bring donated goods the day of the sale.

Our April meeting was a very educational affair, with Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos teaching us all we needed to know about the Unified Port District and its great responsibility in maintaining our tidelands, waterfront, and airport.  The Port’s many environmental programs and initiatives were a particular point of emphasis.  Rafael also announced his entry into the 2016 SD City Attorney’s race.  We wish him well.

While the Port District has already set in motion it’s Climate Action Plan to reduce waste and greenhouse gases, Nicole Capretz walked us through the many reasons the cities of San Diego County need to adopt and implement their own versions of similar programs.

As author of the City of San Diego’s CAP under Mayor Gloria, Nicole and her Climate Action Campaign are a major force in getting San Diego to adopt and implement an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction plan of it’s own.  We are at a tipping point in SD County, and efforts like Nicole’s and others must pave the way for live-able communities for all residents for generations to come.

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., at University Ave. in La Mesa.  We have social hour beginning at 6:30 PM with business and speakers to follow at 7 PM.  Refreshments are served as provided by our members and all guests are welcomed.  Please find us at www.lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

May 6 – Soul of a Nation Author Peggi Chute

Be sure to join us for our May 6th Meeting with noted author, Peggi Chute who recently returned from Selma, AL. Ms. Chute will be offering her book, Soul of a Nation for sale and signing. We meet at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive in La Mesa. Social Time begins at 6:30 pm and the Business Meeting begins at 7:00 pm.


Where the VOTING RIGHTS MOVEMENT Took Center Stage in 1965

SOUL OF A NATION tells the riveting story of “ordinary people” who kept the movement alive with their determination, courage, and daily protests. They put their lives on the line as they spoke truth to power and stood up to Southern rule. Marchers were beaten, tear-gassed, and their children cattle prodded.

People of conscience, both white and black, came together in a movement that forever changed America … but not without great sacrifice. Three activists – Jimmy Lee Jackson, James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo – were murdered before one of the most significant pieces of legislation in U.S. history, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was enacted


Peggi Chute is a retired educator, educational filmmaker, and Hollywood film editor who read about the events in Selma, Alabama, and couldn’t believe such injustice happened during her lifetime. Thus began her long process of painstaking research to find her voice and speak through her strong characters to tell their story. SOUL OF A NATION is Ms. Chute’s first novel. She resides by a small lake in San Marcos, California.


“P.E. Chute has woven together a dramatic ‘historical novel’ in which newspaper and TV accounts of the march from Selma to Montgomery are brought to life with a cast of lovable characters of her own creation. In the midst of this 50th anniversary year, we need to be reminded of both the ‘real people’ and the bit players whose lives and deaths we celebrate. SOUL OF A NATION does just that!”

–Orloff W. Miller (Minister who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.)

May 2 – 7th Annual Yard Sale


La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club

7th Annual Yard Sale

Saturday, May 2 from 8:00 to 1:00

The Yard Sale is our Club’s biggest fundraiser and we depend on our wonderful members for donations. Donation drop-off begins Sunday, April 26 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Drop-off continues Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.  Friday drop off until noon.

For more information please contact Mary Jane Tanquary at (619) 818-5883

The lack of water for the populous and yet we still grow the Almonds.

Drought could push California to rethink water strategy

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced a sweeping executive order Wednesday that imposes mandatory water restrictions across the state as California copes with a historic drought and water shortage. AP


California’s historic drought has thrown the state into crisis mode, but some experts hope it will force long-term improvements in how the state manages water.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced California’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions Wednesday, calling for a 25% reduction in water use and encouraging water districts to charge consumers more for excessive consumption. His executive order will also lead to new rebates for water-efficient appliances, as well as new funding for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

But California’s underlying problem, some experts say, is bigger than the current drought. Considering the state’s burgeoning population and the likelihood that climate change will make droughts more frequent and more severe, they say, policymakers should use the current crisis to lay the groundwork for more sustainable water management.

“We have to think about this as an opportunity to do better for the future,” said Brian Stranko, California water program director for The Nature Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group. “We can only do so many things in this crisis. Our options are limited.”

Speaking during a Thursday conference call hosted by Circle of Blue — a Michigan-based media organization that covers water issues — Stranko said the drought has had major consequences not only for people, but for fish and wildlife as well. Rivers have dried up and wetland habitats along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory bird route that includes the Salton Sea, have been diminished, leading to death and disease among bird populations.

“Nature is suffering alongside our people, our farms, our communities,” Stranko said.

Brown’s executive order is a good first step toward addressing California’s water problems, Stranko said, but more is needed. He called for “dynamic conservation” measures that would use dams and other reservoirs to provide water to natural environments in short bursts, when it’s most needed. Those kinds of measures, Stranko said, would make it easier to balance the water needs of people and nature.

“We have to take advantage of the crisis and take action,” he said.

Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center in New York City, struck a similar note during the conference call. The combination of California’s record-breaking drought and the need to make costly upgrades to aging water infrastructure, he said, creates an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how the United States manages water.

Lall called for policymakers to reevaluate long-entrenched water rights, to consider more centralized water management and to think about water as a human right rather than a commodity. He also highlighted emerging wastewater treatment technology that could make water recycling much less energy-intensive than it is now.

One of the worst droughts on record has had far-reaching consequences throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

“I understand that the drought has severe consequences, but these are times when it actually pays to think about your larger picture and your longer-term strategy, in addition to thinking about what you need to do now,” he said.

Like Stranko and Lall, William Patzert — a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge — believes California must emerge from the drought with a fundamentally different system for managing water.

The main reason for that, Patzert said in an interview Wednesday, isn’t climate change — it’s population growth. The state’s population ballooned from less than 24 million in 1980 to nearly 39 million last year.