Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My turn: A squandered opportunity

Editor’s note: Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks on the House floor following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address in January. I rise to express my deep disappointment in the address by the president last night in this chamber. Twenty years ago, President Clinton was in a similar position. He realized his policies […]

John Stossel: Kochs and Unions

Lots of people sure hate the Koch brothers. The Kochs get death threats like this: “If I had a chance to murder a Koch brother in cold blood, I would surely take it.” Jim Dean doesn’t want to kill the Kochs, but he does want new laws to limit their influence. Dean’s brother Howard was […]

My turn: Consider hospice care at end of life

I have no qualms about the decision of an individual to opt for an alternative to traditional medicine and choose to end their life early and with dignity. After all, the hospice movement was also born as an alternative to the medical establishment, and also ushered in right-to-choose preferences for end-of-life care. I just hope […]

California Rambling: Carnaval de Québec

We Californians don’t know winter. Yes, our Sierra Nevada gets 400 inches of snow on average, but that doesn’t mean we know winter. We travel to the mountains for short escapes to play in the snow, then scurry back to our homes at lower, warmer elevations. A 40-degree day is often the coldest winter day […]

Mark Shields: America truly needs the New Hampshire Primary

The three most recently elected U.S. presidents collected in private contributions for their respective campaigns that brought them to the White House $31 million (Bill Clinton), $96 million (George W. Bush) and $746 million (Barack Obama). According to the reliable Center for Responsive Politics, total spending in the 2014 midterm elections amounted to a record […]

A hero’s bill

Rep. Tom McClintock introduced on Feb. 13 a bill to honor Marine Staff Sgt. Sky Mote, a 2003 graduate of Union Mine High School who was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Aug. 10, 2012. Called H.R. 979, the legislation aims to designate a mountain peak in the John Muir Wilderness as “Sky Point.” The […]

The weekly Daley: All the views that’s fit to print

Call me old fashioned. I’ve been reading National Geographic since before I could even read, and that goes back a ways. Early on I mostly looked at the pictures which were pretty stunning back in the ’50s. Approaching puberty, of course, a young fellow was particularly drawn to the photos of the Amazonian, African, New […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Keep your negative mouth shut

When you research the teachings of American Indians, you keep running across the idea that it’s a good idea to avoid negative statements when you communicate with others. When you are tempted to say something negative, don’t complete the sentence. • In a marriage, both parties are tempted to fire back a negative statement, especially […]

My turn: Are you a Populist?

Many voters identify themselves with some established political party, yet bemoan the stands taken on issues by party leadership. Too often a politician will enter office after a campaign, which leads voters to believe some promised course of action will be taken, only to enact measures which lead America closer to One World Government. Many […]

My turn: California needs a simpler gas tax, not a higher one

With prices at the pump heading back up, news of a cut to the state’s gas tax will surely cheer California drivers. On Feb.24, the State Board of Equalization approved a 6 cent per gallon cut to the state’s gas tax. The change, which will take effect July 1, is based on a complicated formula […]

Vote no on Measure O … again?

On Nov. 4, 2014, voters in El Dorado County soundly shot down Measure O. In a landslide, the measure, which was created by local residents in opposition to projects proposed in Shingle Springs, the Green Valley corridor and parts of Highway 50, garnered nearly 40,000 no votes (39,224 to be exact) for a 66.37 percent […]

Home country: Peak performance

“There’s no sense a-tall,” said Alphonse “Windy” Wilson, “in climbin’ a mountain. Why, you can percolate up to the top and what do you get? Tired.” Windy had cornered several old ladies who were leaving the Rest of Your Life retirement home to walk two blocks to the store. They weren’t fast enough to escape […]

Thanks, Rotary

Among the elements that make up the El Dorado County lifestyle are the enhancements provided by service organizations. A partial list naturally would include the Soroptimists, the Lions, the Kiwanis, the 20-30 Club and, of course, the Rotary. In El Dorado County, the oldest Rotary Club is the one in Placerville, having been formed in […]

Belltower: A new adventure

This is my last column. Today is also my last day as editor of the Mountain Democrat. I am retiring. By the time you read this column I will have already left the building, so any calls will not be returned. I started my newspaper career late in life. I served four years in the […]

The balancing act: ‘Climate change’ is killing us

Climate change, a term used in place of anthropogenic global warming (AGW, meaning human produced carbon dioxide is causing the world to warm which will cause disastrous effects to the Earth) has come to the forefront of California politics again, like it wasn’t already every other word out of a liberal politician’s mouth already. It seems […]

The weekly Daley: Freedom of speech and press; good things

We’ve taken a little heat lately here at California’s Oldest Newspaper — “Since 1851.” We’ve been publishing letters to the editor and columns by regular contributors that have offended readers along a fairly broad spectrum of politics and concerns. Several complained about Gene Altshuler’s offerings on the Opinion page. In general, they think Gene is […]

Thanks, Jeep Corp.

The late Mark A. Smith wasn’t the sole founder of the Jeepers Jamboree. There were other notable individuals in addition to Smith who founded the Jamboree, originally an economic development idea of the Georgetown Rotary. Smith, however, was its first wagon master and held that position for a number of years. The Jamboree has since […]

Tahoe landmark reopens

Long known as the De Webb Sahara Tahoe and Horizon Casino-Hotel, the venue has reopened after six months of remodeling. The $60 million investment employed 700 construction workers. Now called the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, it will feature some pretty fascinating rock memorabilia, including Elvis’ caped suit that he wore at Madison Square Garden. […]

Something to think about: Signs and portents

Punxsutawney Phil and Sarah Palin — what do they have in common? Signs and portents of the future. On Feb. 2, while Punxsutawney Phil, the nation’s Furry Weather Guesser, was predicting six more weeks of winter and then biting his handler in Gobbler’s Knob, Penn., Jimmy the Groundhog was biting the mayor’s ear in Sun […]

Oak woodlands overrated

On Jan. 26, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to essentially switch from measuring “oak canopy” to measuring “oak woodlands.” The real distinction is looking out for what is beneath the oak trees. As explained by the county’s biological resources consultant Cathy Spence-Wells, a principal with Dudek & Associates, in a Jan. 20 […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: Nihilists and naysayers

Recently when addressing the issues of balanced and sustainable economic development, I labeled myself as a “Wise Growth” person. One of the comments I received was what did I mean by that? Growth seems like such a simple word, just one syllable and yet it is crucial to all things. From living organisms to the […]

Eating away at reserves

El Dorado County government began the year where it ended it — facing a General Fund deficit. As explained by then-Interim CAO Pamela Knorr and Chief Budget Analyst Laura Schwarz, the county has appropriated $4.7 million more than it is receiving in property, sales taxes and miscellaneous other revenue sources. Between now and then we […]

Rock doc: Plants respond to sounds of insects eating leaves

Plants are not as dumb as they look. At least to me, plants have never seemed like the brightest bulb in the box. They stand around, looking green, hoping for a sunny day but not able to walk, talk or turn on the TV. However, due to a recent university press release, I’ve got to […]

Home country: Hunter and chatterer

Every hunter knows places to look for in the woods … places where game is more likely to be approached or surprised. It’s that way with Windy Wilson, too. Windy is a hunter, but he just hunts audiences, and he does believe in the catch-and-release system. Only with Windy the release comes only after he’s […]

The rural life: Treating people like animals

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….” The muffled, one-note growl comes from Sadie, my Pomeranian/Chihuahua. She’s struggling not to bark. She desperately wants to (birds out the window!), but she also knows I won’t approve. We’ve been over this and, like most dogs, Sadie wants to please. She tries to understand what I want, then do it — to the […]

Operation School Bell a hit in Placerville

It looked like Christmas in February as children went shopping for new school clothes on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Kmart. Lined up outside the store as early as 8 a.m., an estimated 125 children and their parents swarmed through the store loading up shopping carts with everything from shoes and socks to the latest in t-shirts and dresses. Part of […]

My turn: Working together for common solutions

As the incoming chair of the 15-member Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board, this promises to be a hopeful and exciting year. 2015 will be full of opportunities, but also challenges, for the continued protection of Lake Tahoe. The number one priority among our challenges is funding shortfalls. Federal and state funding that has paid […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]