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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 […]

The balancing act: Hard to kill

El Dorado County’s recently terminated chief administrative officer, Terri Daly, may still be menacing the county. It wasn’t just enough that she 1) hired the ACAO Kim Kerr, who demonstrated her incompetence by violating the California Public Contract Law at least 36 times and 2) created a deficit of over $100 million over the next […]

Measuring success

Each year the Mountain Democrat publishes a special section celebrating the success of local businesses, most of which are small businesses. To survive and thrive even through a recession is what we admire and send writers and photographers to produce profiles in praiseworthiness. Some of the businesses we feature each year, though, really stand out […]

Something to think about: Fifty years of gold

Fifty years of marriage. Fifty years of trying to figure out another being; of wondering if their idiosyncrasies are making you crazy; of trying to change your own idiosyncrasies so that there aren’t two crazy people in the room at the same time; of marveling how well your bodies fit together; of listening to stories […]

Try again

Placerville’s Measure I, the 0.5 cent sales tax measure, lost by only nine votes in the Nov. 4, 2014, election. It was a loss but not a defeat. The City Council should try again. The next opportunity is the June 2 primary election. The City Council needs to act now and set up a plan […]

My turn: A day at the Placerville helitack firebase

On Sunday, Sept. 20, 2014, I was admitted and was given a fabulous personal tour of the King’s Fire helicopter Air-Attack heli-base that was located during the horrendous fire at our own Placerville airport. I counted 12 helicopters stationed at our heli-base, each with their own crew, support personnel and equipment. Each “team” was spaced […]

My turn: Is the American Dream really dead?

Last month (in November), a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis made some headlines by basically asserting that there is no American dream. It’s a myth. He crunched the numbers, supposedly disproving it. Hmm. My dad used to always say, “Did you ever hear about the statistician who drowned in a river, […]

Sheriff cautious

A New Year’s Day standoff with a man barricaded in a house ended with the man exiting 12 hours later, after a fire began in the bedroom where he had been hiding in a closet. This was not the first time for this same person, El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini said Monday morning. We […]

My turn: Understanding the flu and flu vaccine

Flu season is underway. Misconceptions about the flu prevent people from taking the proper precautions. For example, being out in the cold does not cause the flu. Here are a few more flu myths I hear and facts to help you stay healthy this winter. MYTH: If you think you have the flu, go to […]

Future water

What are the future water needs of this county? That was the question the El Dorado County Water Agency posed in a recent report aided by consultants Atkins North America Inc. and Maddaus Water Management Inc. The 2014 West Slope Update looked at agricultural demand and residential demand at full build-out of the 2004 General Plan. Full […]

California Rambling: ‘Go All In’

Meghan Trainor’s hit song, “All About That Bass” has double meaning for the employees at Heavenly Mountain Resort who, while riding chair lifts, sing “bass” as a homophone for “base.” With 32 inches of packed powder (at deadline) Heavenly is all about that base. The ski area is also all about who Trainor’s song appeals […]

The weekly Daley: My 2015 predictions

January — Fallout will continue to fall out whether in the form of rain, snow, political or social retribution, but hopefully not more airplanes. It will be revealed that President Obama really was not born in this country, nor even on this planet. Remember you heard it here first when you’re reading the article in […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Upper class Poor Red’s

They tell me that Poor Red’s has a new owner and will be opening soon. Perhaps it’s time to convert Poor Red’s to a bourgeois bar? I recommend the following changes: — Change the name to “Bourgeois Bob’s.” — Serve French appetizers with silk napkins. — Play classical music only. — Cocktail hour, 6 to […]

EID tops in basics

Despite the drought of the 2013-14 rain year everyone still expects water to come out of the tap when turned on. And for those on public sewer systems they expect everything to disappear when the toilet is flushed. The El Dorado Irrigation District ranks in the “top quartile for providing reliable water and wastewater service, […]

‘A bad administration’

In 1735, the colonial governor of New York, William Crosby, had Attorney General Richard Bradley try weekly newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger for seditious libel. Bradley told a jury that truth was no defense for seditious libel under state law, while Zenger’s attorneys argued the law should not be interpreted to prohibit “the just complaints […]

Drone overkill

After two years of study, the Federal Aviation Administration apparently has come up with drone rules that apply hobbyist rules and customs to commercial use. The Wall Street Journal broke the news Nov. 26 about key elements of the FAA’s proposed commercial drone rules, a fact every other news outlet acknowledges. The real screwball the […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: Free speech is an oxymoron

Speech is not free. Don’t even go there. I know you can speak your mind whenever, and on whatever subject you like with only certain, carefully crafted restrictions. It’s the First Amendment people! But if you choose to be heard beyond the reach of your voice, or the nine people who read your brilliant blog […]

My turn: Water agencies stand in fear

Once again El Dorado County’s own Congressional Representative, Tom McClintock, went straight to the House floor and argued for Central Valley counties to get access to Northern California’s water, and all of our water agencies stand in fear of saying anything. McClintock and his Central Valley groupies, the congressmen from the 21st District, David Valadao, […]

The balancing act: All the colors are taken

Nineteen hundred and three was a remarkable year. Not only did the first powered flight by a human take place by the Wright Brothers, but our country was introduced to the Crayola. Crayola became one of those marketing miracle words like Kleenex, Thermos and Frigidaire in which a brand name was used to describe a […]

Rock doc: Harvesting energy from sunlight

What if there were a two-for-one sale on kilowatts? Your power bill would be cut in half — not a bad result for your monthly budget. Energy drives everything we produce and consume, and global energy consumption continues to grow year after year. The two-for-one image came to mind as I talked with Professor Jeanne […]

Rock doc: Keeping warm with gold fever

I own a couple of small gold nuggets. They came from the Round Mountain gold mine in Nevada, which I visited a few years ago. A tour of the open-pit mine was crowned by a visit to their foundry where the molten metal was poured into gold bars. Those bars are what’s called dorégold, that […]

Rock doc: Seas on Titan and your heating bill

Like most regions of the country, the area where I live suffered through colder than average temperatures in mid-November. If you pay for your heating bill month by month, you are now facing the sticker shock that results from those bitter times. Happy holidays. I heat my home with a natural gas furnace supplemented by […]

Rock doc: Ancient climate change

Climate is always changing. That’s one truth that stands out from the record around the world of natural samples of Earth materials, of tree rings, ice layers, and so much more. But how much has past climate change influenced human affairs? In anthropology it’s been relatively commonplace to look at the twists and turns of […]

The weekly Daley: Someone’s been hacking us for centuries

What’s the big deal? So maybe the Sony company got hacked by North Korea. I say maybe because I don’t think it’s quite been proven 100 percent, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and NK says, “Who us? No way!” Then it adds a few oddly phrased threats about harming our “citadels” whatever that means. […]

Rein in IRS

California Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee investigating the IRS has either gone to ground or is bogged down with a lot of documents to review. It has been largely silent since June. That is when the committee received a 1.1 million database of IRS information from the Justice Department. What was the Justice Department doing with […]

Something to think about: Day of Wonder

Happy Boxing Day! In the UK, today is their Black Friday, when everyone returns gifts that don’t fit, don’t work or are otherwise unacceptable, and the merchants offer deep discounts. Boxing Day has nothing to do with the sport of boxing; it started as a day that tradespeople and servants received a Christmas box with […]


Editor’s note — The name the Battle of the Bulge came from the American press, describing the German Army’s thrust through the Allies’ poorly defended lines in the Ardennes Forest. By Dec. 21, American defenders at Bastogne had been surrounded and the German commander asked them to surrender. The reply from the American general has […]

Belltower: Christmas past and present

For many years our family would get our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We would go to a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm that was not part of the association and therefore had very affordable prices — $15 for white fir at that time. My wife would not join us trudging up the slightly muddy […]

My turn: My analysis of EID

By Dale Coco In preparation for this report I met with staff, toured facilities and reviewed relevant documents. This involved multiple encounters lasting two to five hours each and extensive travel. I did this for two reasons: to fully inform myself about EID in order to perform my duties as a director to the best […]

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

By Francis P. Church, first published in the New York Sun in 1897. We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of the Sun: Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends […]

The rural life : Oh! Christmas tree

Is there anything more gemütlich than a Christmas tree? My father loved this German word (“geh-MOOT-lisch”) which defies English translation but to me blends homey and cosy with poignant happiness. Hard to get enough of a feeling like that. Even so, four Christmas trees in one home may be overdoing it. In our defense, I’ll […]

California rambling: Aspirational inventions

A childhood dream became realized while exploring the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, recently. There, resembling a tail-less, aluminum, dragonfly on the exhibit floor was a United Helicopters Commuter (UH-4). Produced in July 1946, this compact, personal helicopter was the concept of aviation pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr. and industrialist Henry Kaiser to allow anyone […]

The weekly Daley: A Christmas letter

One seasontide back in the mid-’60s my father wrote a dark “Family Christmas Letter” as a humorous antidote to the typical “From Our House to Your House Annual Family Christmas Letter.” You know the ones in which you learn that your friends’ “kids are all doing great at Stanford, will be playing for the Yankees […]

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