Good action

Our compliments to Placerville City Councilwoman Trisha Wilkins for stopping the salami slicing and moving to totally waive the traffic impact fee for the Big Brothers & Sisters’ planned new clubhouse at the corner of Green Valley Road and Mallard Lane. One speaker likened it to a school that would not pay a traffic impact […]

My turn: King Fire restoration decision

I will soon be making a decision regarding the King Fire restoration, covering 63,000 acres of public land. My job is to find and disclose a decision that balances a number of potentially competing interests. Those include timber harvesting, scientific investigation, protection of adjacent unburned forests, protection of private property, wildlife and wildlife habitat, water […]

The balancing act: Doing their homework

Jorge Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat.” It seems the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is again guilty of violating this basic principle of leadership. At the Jan. 27 board meeting there was a small, seemingly innocuous item on the consent calendar agenda. The consent calendar is supposed to […]

Rock doc: Earth’s next epoch

I was raised in the Baptist church. As a grade school child, I memorized the books of the Bible. Maybe because of that personal history, when I started to study geology I didn’t resist memorizing the many pieces of the geologic time scale. The next to the last piece of geologic time is the Pleistocene […]

California rambling: Watchable wildlife

A famed BBC naturalist once described California (before the Mission period) as the Serengeti of North America. California’s Great Central Valley was populated with vast herds of elk and antelope. Families of ferocious grizzly bears feasted on game and salmon and steelhead that teemed in its mighty rivers. Its blue skies were filled with millions […]

Something to think about: Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram

We are now two days into the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram. The lucky element for 2015 is wood; the lucky color is green and the sheep/goat is female. It’s definitely female although still uncertain whether it is a sheep, goat or ram — whatever. You apparently have choices — maybe it’s the […]

Drones over D.C.

Jan. 26 a small quadracopter drone landed on the White House grounds about 3 a.m. It may have been small and what President Obama later referred to as “the kind you buy at Radio Shack,” but it was 2 feet wide and wasn’t shot down by the Secret Service. “We don’t have any kind of […]

Belltower: So long to a hot year

At the end of each calendar year, we total up the average monthly temperatures to see what the overall average daytime and overnight temperatures for the year are. As most of you might have guessed, after the fourth driest rainfall year on record here (Jul, 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) the year was generally warm. Totaling […]

The weekly Daley: Bon appetit

North Carolina’s new Republican Senator  thinks it’s OK for restaurant employees not to wash their hands after a trip to the bathroom. As public law, he thinks it’s an infringement on liberty and anti-capitalism. If people don’t like it they will stay away from the restaurant, and the “market” will have triumphed, and the restaurant […]

The innovation gap

Europe just doesn’t get innovation. The real problem with its stagnant economy is stifling government regulation that ensures youth unemployment in the range of 25 percent because government dictates that the people who have jobs won’t lose them, thereby preventing anyone new from entering the labor market. Europe just doesn’t get that the dynamic labor market […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The baby and the bath water

We would like to believe that our public servants (aka county administrators) always place the interests of the county above petty vindictiveness. And then they go and prove us wrong. Sure, not all of them are short-sighted and petty, but it only takes one or two, doing something really stupid, to tar the rest. I […]

Pratt good choice

We always assumed appointees to the county Planning Commission were residents of the same supervisorial district they were representing. Not so. Former Supervisor Ron Briggs’ appointee did not live in the district. Likewise, newly elected Supervisor Mike Ranalli’s appointee does not live in District 4. Dave Pratt, however, is an experienced planning commissioner. This redounds to […]

Kirkwood advances

Kirkwood ski resort, now part of Vail’s collection of ski facilities along with Heavenly, is getting a major upgrade. The resort and its meadow that straddles three counties, has replaced its diesel generators. Originally serving the lodge and a few homeowners, the generators became part of a public utility district as more vacation homes were […]

California rambling: Final Honors

While serving as a Navy Ensign in Washington, D.C., many years ago, I was assigned collateral duty as a Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. In the Navy and Marine Corps, CACOs are those military officers who, with a chaplain, must notify next of kin that a service member has died. The duty involves informing the service […]

The weekly Daley: I’m not a scientist, but…

“I’m not a scientist,” but I know that climate change is not affected by human activities. “I’ll leave that to the scientists,” to figure out whether or not humans are responsible for any amount of climate change — or that there even is climate change. “I’m not a scientist,” so I won’t comment on the […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Want to create ageless joy?

I believe most people can create ageless joy in their lives. If you are truly seeking joy instead of despair, you will find or create sunshine instead of darkness. • When you believe joy is awaiting you, your life predictions become positive. You are not worried about an upcoming date or an interview for a […]

Salmon on Cosumnes?

It was interesting reading about a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service salmon expert’s talk to the local trout club. The primary focus of the presentation by Donnie Ratcliff was bringing salmon to the Cosumnes River. It would be nice if we could catch salmon or steelhead in the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County or […]

Rock doc: Forensic science meets nuclear chemistry

As a kid, I read the Sherlock Holmes stories and the mysteries of Agatha Christie. As an adult, I wrote four mysteries that focused on a Quaker heroine solving crimes she happened across in her religious community. (I published them using my grandmother’s name — Irene Allen — as a pseudonym.) And, as a geologist, […]

Rock doc: Fat and the year you were born

New Year’s resolutions are being put to the harshest of tests. Gone are the days of early January when all things seemed so easily possible. Now we are in the tougher phase of the year when the will to establish new patterns is being sorely tested by the tug of old habits. One of the […]

Another cold case

Last week two out of three persons arrested in relation to a murder case dating back to 2006 were arraigned. One of the two was arrested on suspicion of murder. It’s another cold case prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office. Every single cold case this office has prosecuted has resulted in a conviction, going back […]

Innovative tribal court

Sometimes the wheels of justice all point in the same direction. That happened earlier this month when all the county’s judges were sworn in by Miwok Tribal Chairman Nick Fonseca to preside over cases involving tribal members. Conversely, a tribal judge was sworn in by Superior Court Presiding Judge Suzanne Kingsbury to preside in Superior […]

My turn: How can we make California ‘CA-boom!’ again?

Ebola, landslide elections, immigration and Ferguson have dominated the holiday season news, and those massive stories have obscured a host of other events that augur poorly for the future of California unless we act to change the way we govern this state. It’s the problems related in these stories that inspired me to write CA-Boom! […]

The balancing act: Sinking the ship of state

Like Capt. Edwin Smith of the Titanic, our Board of Supervisors didn’t heed the warnings of an impending debacle (in EDC’s case, huge deficits). Smith was advised several times of icebergs and he neither chose to slow down the speeding Titanic or change to a more southerly course. As with the Titanic, the warning signs […]

Lions Hall progresses

By now the entire roof has been removed, new trusses dropped in and new sheathing is covering them. This is the big project of ensuring the structural integrity of the Mother Lode Lions Hall, named after the late Clara Scheiber. Scheiber was a key person in what was then the Diamond Springs Community Club, which […]

Belltower: New York impressions

How we came to travel to New York on Christmas Day began a couple of months before when I read that Nathan Lane was starring in “It’s Only a Play.” Nathan Lane just lights up the stage. But the real decision point was that his last appearance in the play would be Dec. 31. As […]

My turn: Falling gas prices mask hidden tax

So why is it that while other states are now enjoying gas prices of less than $2 per gallon, California is still paying higher prices? Due to high taxes and costly regulations, our state’s gas prices are higher than other states. It’s been that way for years. But what’s new is that the gap between […]

My turn: Fishing license fee raid abandoned

In response to objections raised by the California Sportfishing League, and a massive outpouring of objections from California sportsmen and women, the Ocean Protection Council has abandoned its plan to raid California fishing and hunting licensing funds to manage Marine Protected Areas, created by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This reversal shows that California’s fishing […]

The weekly Daley: State of the Union

Folks on the left generally liked President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Those on the right generally didn’t. Big name commentators on each side were about evenly split as could be expected. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good speech, articulate and well delivered. If it had been done for a […]

Something to think about: Stand up or stand down?

Defiance — I’m coming to like that word. For me it’s less about getting into someone’s face than it is about standing my ground— especially when someone is trying to take away my freedom and what I hold most dear. The recent terrorism in France may be thousands of miles away from us, but it […]

An outstanding group

El Dorado County opened its new animal shelter in the Diamond Springs industrial park in October. The shelter cost $5.7 million, which includes the $1.86 million purchase price of the building and land at 6435 Capitol Avenue. The construction bid by D.G. Granade Construction was $400,000 under budget. At 21,000 square feet, the building should […]

Rock doc: Better ways to clear snow and ice

As you watch the falling snow, do you marvel at the beauty of the scene or immediately dread driving to work on icy pavement? Most of our nation’s roads get at least some snow most years, and that means clearing snow and ice from pavement is big business. For highways alone, agencies in the U.S. […]

My turn: Tips for finding the right school for your child

If you’d like to send your child to a different school next year, now’s the time to start the process of researching your options. As California prepares to commemorate National School Choice Week later this month at 990 events across the state, and nearly 11,000 events nationwide, many parents will begin evaluating the educational opportunities […]

My turn: Regaining the trust of our constituents

First, I want to take this opportunity to thank all those that voted during this last election. Regardless of whom or what you voted for, by participating, you became part of the solution. It was an interesting three months of campaigning for a seat on the Georgetown Divide Public Utilities District Board of Directors — […]

Mosquito on the bubble

Mosquito Fire Protection District lately has had trouble keeping a fire chief on the job, churning through three in less than three years. The small district has four paid firefighters and 12 volunteers. That’s not very much coverage for an area that is geographically distinct and might be considered remote. A largely wooden bridge spans […]

Police Dept. sharpens up

Placerville’s new police chief appears to be taking a methodical approach to getting the most out of a small police department with a current count of 19 sworn officers, which includes the command staff, plus nine non-sworn staff. Last Tuesday he outlined for the Placerville City Council a two-year plan to improve police service in […]

California Rambling: Rarest of the rare

Inside a “sea blue” metal building beside the Cameron Park Airport, 15 craftsmen restore U.S. Navy WWII warbirds that truly are the “rarest of the rare.” Currently being restored at Vultures Row Aviation are a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber, the bomber that won the battle of Midway; a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, the Navy bomber […]

The rural life : Dead bird standing?

I blinked my eyes … was this for real? A small, sparrow-like bird stood motionless on my back deck, a scant three feet from the sliding glass door. No bird in its right mind would loiter there, so near the house and in a spot frequented by our two cats, both (I’m sorry to say) […]

Contrasting demonstrations

The reaction of the French people to the Jan. 7 murder by Islamic terrorists of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, including a police officer, and then two days later the murder of a police woman directing traffic and four hostages at a kosher grocery store, was impressive. Jan. 11, French people filled […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: A stroke makes you a prisoner

On Nov. 20, a stroke attacked me and floored me. Within half an hour I was at my doctor’s office and was immediately taken by ambulance to the hospital. Four days later I was transferred to Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo for 13 days. As soon as you receive your room, an alarm belt […]

The weekly Daley: What’s up with…?

When the price of oil goes down and costs at the gas pumps plummet, it’s evidently bad for the economy. Good for those of us who have to pay for driving our cars but bad overall and bad long-term. I heard some smart head discussing this topic on NPR the other morning. So, which is […]

Rock doc: Let the sun shine in

My scientific training tells me that the days are getting a little bit longer now. And I do believe that. But my spirits say it remains dark awfully long into the morning and the sun surely sets early in the afternoon. Even if you aren’t affected emotionally by the short days of winter, could they […]

Rock doc: All that glitters is not (pure) gold

Recently I had the pleasure of going to the wedding celebration of my assistant at work — whom I count as a good friend — and her new husband. Theirs is an international marriage: the bride was born and raised in this country, the groom born and raised in China. The wedding celebration had elements […]

My turn: Why I dislike/like the ACA

The Affordable Care Act, the ACA, known to just about everybody as Obamacare, is about half-implemented. I always refer to it as the Affordable Care Act, and I wish others would also. Each state may administer their form of the ACA, and incorporate health care for low-income folks (an extension of Medicaid) not eligible for […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The Great Divide

More and more we have become a society with an obscene gap between rich and poor. We are also a society more socially and politically divided than ever before. And everything in our technical infrastructure and popular culture encourages and exacerbates these trends. And when an approach is developed to teach critical thinking in our […]

Hold the line

Gov. Jerry Brown released his proposed budget Jan. 9. For the most part it represents a certain measure of frugality he has held to for the past four years, basically shining on the Legislature’s efforts to spend more on welfare. Of particular note is the governor’s continuing battle to cut expenses from the bloated University […]