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Something to Think About: Looking for the third stooge

Two veterans of reality shows team up to represent the Republican party for the presidency of the United States. One has no political experience and the other bailed out of her governorship early to host a reality show. Both Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have loud voices and mouths that release whatever comes into their heads […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The system is rigged

One of our essential freedoms is the right to vote. With the 2016 campaign season now in full swing it is appropriate to take a close look at this core constitutional right. The right to vote is far from perfect. No, that is too wimpy a characterization — actually the system is rigged. If you think […]

My Turn: Despite snow, Tahoe’s climate still changing

The new year got off to a phenomenal start with snow falling at Lake Tahoe. It seems long ago since we’ve had snow around the lake, but as California and Nevada continue to grapple with four years of drought and water shortages, the snow couldn’t be falling at a better time. A snow survey this […]

California Rambling: El Dorado explorer

Jedediah Strong Smith spent much of his short life blazing trails throughout the West, though — considering the times in which he lived — he would have never imagined how his accomplishments are remembered, 185 years later. Each day, thousands walk, cycle, ride and run along the 32-mile Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, also known as the American […]

The Rural Life: What did I download, then?

My daughter, recently returned from a semester in France, is quite fluent in French. Still, as a nonnative speaker of it, she faces challenges — such as getting her mouth into that poochy, smushy form that makes French sound French. I’m fluent only in English (and sometimes not even that) but I do know how […]

The Weekly Daley: It’s getting weird out there

I’m not sure if the term bizarre does justice to the current state of the Republican presidential campaign. It’s every bit of that and then some. By the time this sees the light of day, we will know whether or not Donald Trump kept his word about “maybe not attending” last night’s GOP debate hosted […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Learning from the little ones

Recently my 2 1/2-year-old great-granddaughter Daisy came into the living room and saw my infected hand bandaged from fingertips to elbow. Without saying a word, she came over to me and patted my hand, which she described as my “owie.” After she patted my hand she went into the kitchen, returned to me and gave […]

My Turn: EID rate hikes neither modest nor needed

The El Dorado Irrigation District’s recent news release regarding new rate increases for 2016-20 stated, “A number of ratepayers expressed their concerns at the public hearing, but I think a large majority of our customers understand the underlying needs for these modest increases.” Well as one EID ratepayer and one EID board director I take a […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The Grand Old Party no more

The Republican Party is “in play” — a Wall Street term for a company ripe for a takeover. Watching the Republican Party self-destruct is disheartening and sad. There is a distinct probability, not just a possibility, that the Party of Lincoln will be reduced to a gaggle of warring factions and we will witness the demise of […]

Belltower: Cab driving past and present

The last cab ride I took was in Paris. I had figured out the subway system and my wife and I were able to get to every art museum on our list. The only exception was the Musee Marmottan Monet. No subway stop and I couldn’t find its exact location on a map. This was […]

The Balancing Act: Worthless surveys

Money is so tight in El Dorado County that Chief Administrative Officer Larry Combs recently decided that no General Fund money will be used to repair county roads (Combs letter, Sept. 9, 2015) but that didn’t stop our Board of Supervisors from conducting a Citizens Engagement Survey at a reported cost of $15,000 to “help” with determining a […]

Something to Think About: Can’t get no satisfaction

What happens when you get what you want? When what you’ve hoped for, wished for and worked for happens are you in a state of euphoria, thrilled that the world appears to be turning your way at last? Of course you are … for about 90 seconds, maybe an entire day. Then you notice that there […]

The Weekly Daley: The gloves are coming off

Although I’ve heard otherwise, I don’t believe Republican candidates eat their young, but they sure do seem to be munching on each other these days. For example, despite his seemingly overwhelming popularity with conservative prospective voters, Donald Trump apparently is a RINO of the first order. That is, a Republican in Name Only. Hence  Ted […]

My Turn: Safe and reliable service for another 90 years

As I write this column, El Dorado Irrigation District’s 90th year is coming to a close. In 1925, just a few generations after Marshall discovered gold in Coloma, and in the face of growing competition for water from hydropower producers, El Dorado County residents voted to form the El Dorado Irrigation District. Why did they do it? To protect […]

My Turn: Reinventing our business districts

A new police substation has been approved at Carriage Trade Center (where Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree are core tenants) to help curb the spike in criminal activity. This last year alone, the Placerville Police Department responded to 543 calls for service — vandalism, public intoxication, burglary, theft and assault. In a creative attempt to get […]

California Rambling: I Have a Dream

American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson is said to have called out to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. interrupting him as he neared the end of his prepared speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, “Tell them about the dream!” Speaking to more than 250,000 civil rights supporters, Dr. King had just called […]

The Rural Life: Cat tales

I have a cat problem. The kitty in question, Locket, is one of two family cats. Locket “belongs” mostly to my daughter, while her litter-mate, Leo, is more “my” cat. Now that “her” human is away at college, Locket has become a problem child. Both our cats are coal black with green eyes. Leo is […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: I am starting a vampire club

One morning last month, when I got out of bed at 5:30 a.m., I twisted my knee when I stood up, fell down and fell into the nightstand next to the bed. I realized immediately that my front teeth hit the top of the nightstand. When I stood up I checked to see if my teeth […]

The Weekly Daley: A few observations

As a news and politics junkie, I try to keep up to date on news and politics, especially when the news is mostly politics. But, after listening to the pundits and experts and big-heads and others of their ilk month after month for what seems like two years, I’m beginning to weary of it all. […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The politics of hate

Fear and hate, hate and fear — which comes first? Actually they are palindromic. Fear engenders hate and hate motivates the simplistic and uninformed, and so goes the dance. Not a stately minuet but the chaotic sweaty mosh pit called Republican politics. Fear and hate are bad enough in and of themselves, but the right chooses […]

The Balancing Act: From frying pan into the fire

About or shortly after the time Larry Combs was dismissed from his two-year stint as Merced County’s chief administrative officer he was asked by the Sutter County Board of Supervisors to help find a new CAO. It was a paid consultancy. Combs recommended a man named Jim Arkens, who at the time was Mono County’s CAO. […]

Belltower: Some news items

In the Dec. 30, 2015, Mountain Democrat Publisher Richard Esposito wrote a long dissertation about technological change as part of his first message as newly installed county Chamber of Commerce president. What caught my eye was an item about the first computer housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965. I worked my way through college in the […]

Something to Think About: Who owns the moon?

In November President Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, allowing asteroids and the moon to be commercially mined for minerals and materials by anyone who wishes to do so. This opens the way for entrepreneurial space miners to launch a modern-day Gold Rush … if they can come up with the capital […]

The Weekly Daley: What a start to the new year

Whew! It didn’t take long to go from Happy New Year to Crazy New Year. The president announced Tuesday that he intends to rework gun control laws through Executive Order with the probable result that only “outlaws will have guns,” if you believe all the GOP candidates. Law-abiding citizens will be subjected to expanded background checks […]

My Turn: EID raises salaries and your rates

On Dec. 14 the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors voted 3-2 to raise General Manager Jim Abercrombie’s salary by 10 percent ($18,000) and Chief Counsel Tom Cumpston’s by 8.7 percent ($15,000). Including pension and other benefits, Abercrombie’s new total compensation is about $298,000 per year and Cumpston’s is about $277,000. Abercrombie’s subordinate, HR manager […]

My Turn: The other side of the street

Reading “Reflections from the Sidewalk” by Marcia Brim expressing her objections to abortion, I was struck by her effort to be a calm voice, rejecting inflammatory language and respectfully listening to those who believe in a woman’s right to control her own body. While you project a calm and reasoned voice, there are other Christians […]

California Rambling: No pizza, no fries

Ski and snowboard instructors at El Dorado County’s Sierra at Tahoe are no longer emphasizing pizza, fries and floating leaves to describe skiing and boarding positions. Instead, they’re using specially sculpted slopes to teach skiing and snowboarding, intuitively. For years ski instructors would describe the triangular shape of a slice of pizza to instantly communicate […]

The Rural Life: Lights out, spirits up

“Oh, no!” <groan> That’s me when the power goes out. Not quite grief-stricken, but close. One minute all is as it should be, and the next my life lurches to a halt. Usually I’m working at my computer— happy, industrious — and then, abruptly, I’m not. I’m decommissioned, stranded without the tools of my trade. Bereft. […]

The weekly Daley: Predictions of resolutions

It’s day one of the new year, the first of January, 2016. It’s a fine day to ponder the annual full slate of possible resolutions and to consider another load of predictions for the year. New Year’s resolutions have confounded me for at least the past five decades. Way back when, I might have resolved […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: New beginnings are fun

It is that time of the year when I think about what I want to add to my life or subtract from my life. Most of the time, even years have been better than odd years in my life. Feeling better physically is my ultimate goal in 2016. I am still recovering from a stroke […]

The Democratic-chronicles: It’s a wrap

Year end is upon us and it is a good time to look back on 2015. In many ways this has been an extraordinary year with major changes to our social fabric, both positive and negative. Let’s start with the positive changes: The world finally got it right as the United Nations Conference on Climate […]

My Turn: Hydrogen fallacy

Regarding the Nov. 6 Mountain Democrat article “The future is in the driveway,” some basic technicalities should be surfaced before we jump into this technology. It should be pointed out that there are some major environmental, cost and practicality issues associated with fuel cell-powered vehicles. Fuel cell vehicles require gaseous hydrogen as their energy source. […]

The balancing act: We are out of control

At the Dec. 15 El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting item 40 on the calendar corrected an error made by the CAO’s Office in the annexation by El Dorado Hills Fire, the wealthiest district in the county, of Latrobe Fire, one of the poorest. The Board of Supervisors unanimously supported the annexation on June 10, 2014, […]

Belltower: Newspapers of the West and the Oregon Trail

I was shocked to learn that Hawaii’s first newspaper predates California’s first newspaper — by a lot. It was actually a student newspaper written in Hawaiian with somewhat of a slant provided by the missionaries. It was printed at the first high school west of the Rockies. The high school was called Lahainaluna and the newspaper […]

The weekly Daley: Same day, new traditions

Christmas is most of all about tradition. The most common American tradition holds that each home has a Christmas tree and colored lights and a wreath on the front door. Stockings are hung by the chimney or the faux mantel or the bookshelf or whatever stands in as a chimney. There might be any number of […]

Something to think about: Santa says …

It’s Christmas Day. Santa has already swooped down the chimney, left his gifts and flown back to the North Pole. The cookies and milk have been consumed and Santa is beginning a well-deserved vacation … and diet. This year, as he does every year, Santa left the Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries some new words — […]

Publisher’s Ink: A Merry Christmas

On Friday, Dec. 25, the Mountain Democrat will be completing its 164th year as California’s oldest newspaper. This time next year the Mountain Democrat will celebrate 165 years of publishing in El Dorado County. A short news article appearing on Dec. 21, 1895, carried a Christmas message to readers. Reading it, one gets a sense […]

My Turn: A heartfelt thank you

How does one thank the benefactor, philanthropist, working parent, youthful donor, sponsor or supporter properly? When grateful hearts search for the proper expression of thankfulness, words escape or seem inadequate. Such is the quandary of the Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center Association. Through numerous and very generous donations, the Pollock Pines-Camino Community Center Association, a 501(c)3 entity, […]

California Rambling: Christmas arrives early in the Sierra

El Dorado County’s ski areas unwrapped an early Christmas present this autumn, experiencing their best start in a decade. “So far, it has snowed at least once a week,” said John Rice, general manager at Sierra at Tahoe. Rice shares an “optimistic” outlook for this year’s ski season with Kevin Cooper at Kirkwood and Cassandra […]

My Turn: Police worn body cams debate continues

The use of body cameras by police departments have come to light as a new form of accountability across the nation, as a result of multiple deaths and alleged cases of excessive use of force by police. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Mo., was one of the first incidents and sparked the black lives matter movement […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Has the art of compromise died?

Compromise is a dirty word in the U.S. Congress. None of the congressional members is devoting any realistic time or energy to try to “work things out.” As soon as the president proposes a bill, the Republicans automatically oppose his recommendation. The debates are black and white. There is no gray area of conversation. When the […]

The weekly Daley: Letters from Santa

Dear CNN, Fox, NBC, et al, I don’t think I can keep Donald driving your ad campaigns for another decade. I know what he’s doing for your bottom line and I understand you’d love it to continue forever, but no-can-do. On the bright side, there’s always somebody else or something else waiting in the wings. […]

The Democratic-chronicles: A moral outrage

Although there is universal condemnation of the latest mass murder in San Bernardino, and thousands of articles and editorials extant, I am compelled to add my voice to the swelling chorus decrying America’s penchant for guns and refusal to enact any reasonable measures of safety from firearms. While I am sure that I cannot add […]

My Turn: Loved ones with dementia: preparing for the holidays

Maude sat in her comfortable chair and looked at the crowd gathered around her. Sounds of holiday music playing and children running through the home echoed in her ears. “Who are these people? Why are they in my house?” Maude became upset and anxious. People she didn’t recognize kept speaking to her and asking questions […]

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