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Restaurant owner in the wrong business

EDITOR: All of the recent problems at Dante’s Restaurant just highlight the need for a few rest areas to be situated along Highway 50. I expect that most of us traveling up to the snow or to Stateline have felt the need for a place to stop at one time or another. This is especially […]

How much has the Garrido case cost us?

EDITOR: Enough! How long has this “Garrido” thing been going on? How much money has this cash strapped county put out on this case? Why don’t you put one of your investigative reporters on this case to tell us how much this is costing us, the taxpayers. How much are we paying their lawyers? The […]

Highway 50 hazard — I’m lucky to be alive

EDITOR: An open letter to Caltrans: Your project to add HOV lanes to Highway 50 has created what I believe to be an unsafe condition at the bottom of the Bass Lake grade on the westbound lanes. As I was traveling on that section of road Feb. 17, during light rain on a breezy day, […]

Are we really broke?

EDITOR: America is broke and we must reduce the size of government! Quick, now, immediately, no time to debate. Grover Norquist, darling of the Tea/Republican Party, wants to drown the government in a bathtub by having it run out of funds. I should make the point that Mr. Norquist wants to abolish programs that aid […]


There’s a difference between shooting a few ducks out of the sky and using an anti-aircraft gun to blast out an entire flock. Senate Bill 523 by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, falls into the latter category. It is legislative overkill. Among the many legislative proposals for pension reform this bill stands out as ill-conceived, […]

The rural life: My dog, myself

May I someday be the person my dog thinks I am. This adage expresses a worthy goal. A challenging one! Your dog thinks you are best, smartest, kindest person in the world. Endlessly interesting. One hundred percent benevolent. Never, ever wrong. When I think of how my little dog Sadie regards me, it makes me […]

California Rambling: Three Stages earns an ‘A’

There was a giddy question mark in his voice as Dave Pier, the executive director of the region’s new performing arts center, Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, completed his introduction of New York City’s Joffrey Ballet in early March.  It seemed almost as if he couldn’t truly believe that a ballet company as renowned […]

No paperwork left behind

While President Obama is pushing for more money to update what George W. Bush labeled as No Child Left Behind, the schools haven’t seen any improvement. They have seen an increase in paperwork. The No Child Left Behind Act is the eighth iteration of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act passed as part of […]

Billingsley’s bullets: Is your ego in charge of your life?

Within the next few weeks I will be making two important decisions that will immediately affect my life in important ways. The question I am wrestling with is related to my ego. Am I making these decisions because of my ego needs or because satisfying my ego needs is no longer a high priority for […]

The weekly Daley: Red Carpet Dreams

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Me: Hello Caller: I’m calling for Chris Daley. Me: That’s me. Caller: This is Megan from Regal Entertainment Group. I’m calling to tell you that you’ve won the Red Carpet Dreams Sweepstakes Grand Prize. Me: Ummmm. What’s that? I didn’t enter any sweepstakes. (Thought bubble: This is why I usually don’t […]

What really happened with the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council?

EDITOR: I am concerned about the Mountain Democrat’s limited reporting about the suspended funding to the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council for fire safety activities for the Western Slope portion of our county. The March 14 Democrat article didn’t indicate that the reporter had independently read and analyzed the federal audit report that prompted […]

Rock Doc: Light overcoming the darkness

There’s good news all around us. On March 20 we’ll be hitting the first day of spring, known to us geeks as the spring equinox. That’s the point when those of us living on the northern half of the Earth finally start to see daylight overwhelm the darkness of winter. We’ve survived the shadow that […]

Our own American Idol: the Planning Commission

EDITOR: Did you know Placerville has its own version of American Idol? You didn’t? It’s called “Planning Commission” and it’s on Channel 2 TV the first and third Tuesday of each month. The game goes like this: the “Applicant” brings his “Project” to the “Commission” after first going through the city’s Community Development Department’s Building […]

Publisher’s ink: Awards are great but purpose is greater

“Awards don’t put food on the table” Frank Miles, the former president and CEO of Thomson Newspapers Inc., informed me. In the 1970s, Thomson owned more daily newspapers in the United States than any other company. Miles believed it was nice to be recognized by one’s peers but at the end of the day the […]

Time to drill

It’s past time to drill, but it’s never too late to begin. If President Obama would quit dithering around with throwing up roadblocks against drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Petroleum Reserve we could start progressing toward energy independence. Already small oil drilling companies are bringing in oil from the Bakken Formation in […]

Thanks for supporting Habitat for Humanity

EDITOR: Open letter to the friends of El Dorado County Habitat for Humanity: First, we’d like to thank you for your continued support of our ongoing efforts to bring affordable housing to El Dorado County. We couldn’t do it without your help. Second, it has become necessary to ask for volunteers. Although we’re not quite ready to begin […]

Thank you so much: The students were impressed

EDITOR: Open letter to the community: I would like to personally thank all of the people with such gracious hearts who contributed to the “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser at Guiding Hands School. About a month ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the Mountain Democrat regarding a campus intruder who came on site, […]

My turn: Rejection of ObamaCare gives lawmakers, governor opportunity for do-over

Democrats and Republicans alike are anxiously waiting to see whether the job-killing, government-run health care law signed last year by President Obama survives its legal challenges. Just last month a federal judge deemed the “lynchpin” component of “ObamaCare” — the individual mandate that requires everyone to purchase the kind of health care coverage the government […]

Japanese earthquake, tsunami absolutely heartbreaking

EDITOR: As the death toll continues to rise in Japan from the horrific earthquake and tsunami, our hearts continue to fill with tears and deep compassion for the Japanese people who have lost their lives, for those injured and still missing and for those who will live on and suffer the tragic loss of their […]

My turn: From Lebanon, with pessimism and hope

BEIRUT — On the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 11, I received a text message from a colleague. The dinner she was hosting would be delayed an hour “on account of revolution.” The delay was not a surprise since everyone I know had been riveted by the dramatic events shaking the Arab world. As scholars of […]

Why even go to the City Council meetings?

EDITOR: I attended the Placerville City Council meeting to express my opposition to the roundabout along with many other business owners and citizens. At the meeting the vast majority was opposed to the roundabout and was able to get up and talk to the council about the negative impact it would have on their business. […]

Rules of the road

EDITOR: Driving these winding foothill roads can be a challenge. My kids “cut their teeth” here … gave me nightmares. Here are a few simple habits that work for me: 1. Follow at a safe distance. The California Highway Patrol recommends three seconds. I concur. It’s not just safer — it reduces stress and improves […]

I have some concerns about the roundabout

EDITOR: Being an elderly pedestrian who recently bought a home not far from the Druid Monument in Placerville, I am concerned about the proposed roundabout. Exactly what safeguards are proposed for pedestrians who want to cross it? No roundabout I’ve ever seen had traffic lights — that might slow down traffic. Will there be an […]

Roundabout: Change is not always good

Reading the publisher’s article on the roundabout helps explain a lot about what is wrong with our government and how even at a national level we got in some of the messes we have. He talks about change like it is this wonderful thing that by definition should be embraced by enlightened people. Contrary to […]

Jaycee Dugard reward … what ever happened to J. Leonard Padilla?

In the Dec 22, 1991, issue of the Lake Tahoe Tribune, there was an article about J. Leonard Padilla offering a $100,000 cash reward for information leading him to the location of Jaycee Lee Dugard. The offer was good only until Jan. 5 because Padilla was going to federal prison for tax evasion. It might […]

Rock doc: How fragile is the solid Earth beneath our feet?

Geology has surely been in the news lately, with the price of petroleum moving relentlessly upward, a threat to global economic recovery because oil is so central to industrial society the world around. But now matters are suddenly worse. Even geologists like myself, used to the ferociously destructive power of earthquakes, have been taken aback […]

A dose of Dan: How would shareholders respond if America was a corporation?

If you managed to tear yourself away from the train wreck that is Charlie Sheen and other mainstream news distractions over the past several weeks, you may have come across a report issued last month that analyzes the United States as if it were a company. The “USA Inc.” report was issued by Mary Meeker, […]

Belltower: An historical disappointment

For most of my 32 years here at the Mountain Democrat we have had a column that reprints blurbs from past issues, starting with 150 years ago and working down to 25 years ago. Twenty-five years ago give something a lot of people can recognize. Many around here can recognize things from 50 years ago. […]

Mock trials

The local bench has done a good service by sponsoring a teen court, wherein local high school students try some of their contemporaries who have gone astray and decide on community service penalties. We would like to suggest a different challenge for high school students — mock trials. Somewhat like a debate competition, schools compete […]

We need unions

EDITOR: The repeal of collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin is an outrageous, partisan stunt that defies public support, democracy and precedent, and should be a wake-up call to the middle class. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker targeted nurses, teachers and firefighters just trying to support their families — hardworking women and men who provide critical services […]

‘History’ depends on who’s recounting it

EDTOR: Reference Mr. McHenry’s recent letter that continues the Japanese War Plans debate saga. Mr. McHenry complains my position is based on only one book. If I may refresh his memory, he cried out for “one book” — just one book that would support my position. He wanted one book that I could cite as […]

Trees of El Dorado County: I come not to bury ailanthus

The leaves of the trees are for the healing of nations. — Book of Revelations I come to praise a tree, the princess tree, that has been honored by inclusion on the El Dorado County Noxious Weed Management Group’s lisit. Master Gardener Barbara Bania went so far as to say it is not well-behaved! It is common […]

Someone made my day

EDITOR: Open letter to “Misty Mountain Hop:” You paid for my drink at the Starbucks drive-through this morning. You did it without knowing my name, my story, or even what drink I had ordered. And you gave the barista a note to give to me with my drink: “Hello, fellow coffee drinker. God will be […]

Backyard chickens are the only way to fly

EDITOR: I was excited to see your article about backyard chickens. My family has been raising chickens for eight months, and we just got some new chicks. They are a lot of fun and the eggs are delicious! Did you know that chickens will eat your kitchen scraps, fertilize your garden and keep it free […]

Please bring back the rainfall contest

EDITOR: This was the year I was going to win the Rainfall Contest. I can’t believe that the Mountain Democrat is not sponsoring the contest. Please reconsider and bring it back. RAYMOND PIERCE Cameron Park Editor’s note — The Mountain Democrat based its Rainfall Contest on statistics supplied by the local office of Pacific Gas […]

Rock doc: Ears of corn

It’s a world-famous grass, and crucial to our bellies. Its called Zea mays by botanists; rock-heads like me call it corn. Compared to many plants, it’s excellent at tolerating drought and heat  almost in a class by itself in that regard. Corn is obviously at the heart of corn muffins and tortillas, but you […]

Something to think about: The end of Puffy

Puffy died and it’s all my fault. Normally one doesn’t get all worked up about a piece of fabric filled with feathers, but I’m pretty bummed out because Puffy was perfect. It was one of those serendipitous purchases at Costco about eight years ago — an end cap piled high with light-as-air down-filled throws. I […]

The weekly Daley: Libya

“ Obama is way out of his depth. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s got a bunch of dumb s*&ts working for him.” Thus began a terribly circular and ultimately inane phone conversation with my brother the conservative earlier this week. The topic this time was Libya in particular and the Middle East rebellions […]

Cedar Ravine roundabout: Don’t accept the money if it’s a bad project

EDITOR: I have just read Mountain Democrat Publisher Richard Esposito’s column regarding the proposed roundabout in Placerville. While I agree that dedicated monies must be spent as allocated, there is no reason we should always accept that money if the project is a bad one. I agree with using money to upgrade the bridge and […]

‘Leave No Trace’ camping is the only way to go

EDITOR: I’m a sixth-grader in Latrobe School District and I try to help protect the environment any chance I get. I want to share some ideas with your readers about how to keep El Dorado County’s wilderness areas and camping spots as beautiful as ever. When I go camping I make sure that I don’t […]

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