It’s time again for Bravos and Barbs, The Union Democrat’s periodic compendium of the good, the bad and, once in a while, even the ugly, in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.
Our list is admittedly incomplete and we apologize to anyone whose accomplishments we failed to recognize. And for those of you whose misdeeds fell below our radar, there’s always the next edition.
Without further ado, the spring lists:
• To State Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, for introducing legislation extending the deadline for service stations to install costly vapor recovery systems on their pumps and for urging the California Air Resources Board to be lenient in its enforcement of the regulations. Meeting the new standards can cost up to $25,000 per pump. Cox was right in arguing that imposing the costly requirements on small service stations can wait until our already painful recession eases.
• To Margaret Blair and volunteers at her Jackson ranch, who train dogs who would otherwise be euthanized at the Amador and Calaveras county pounds to be well-mannered pets. Their focus is not mean or ill-tempered dogs, bur overly energetic, rambunctious “knuckleheads” who have the potential to hurt someone by accident. The success of the program — 100 dogs saved in five years — speaks to its worth.
• To, believe it or not, the federal government, for sending some $94,000 in stimulus funds our way for Meals on Wheels and other financially strapped senior nutrition programs in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Although the meals programs are not as labor intensive as road and building projects funded with stimulus payments, it’s reassuring to know that the feds realize how important such aid project is in this downturned economy.
• To Keith Tallia, 76, and his volunteer maintenance committee, who have together invested hundreds of hours sprucing up the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in preparation for next month’s Jumping Frog Jubilee. The committee has taken up the slack since regular maintenance workers were laid off as a cost-cutting measure last year. Thanks should also go to an anonymous donor who is funding a remodeling of the main stage.
• To the Yosemite Community College District, which last week opened Columbia College’s $2.8 million Public Safety Center, the first of numerous improvement projects funded by Measure E, a $326 million bond issue passed by voters in 2004. The bond funds are not only improving the Columbia College campus, but are providing work during difficult economic times.
• For Dale Buller, a Rail Road Flat millionaire who had the gall to ask for representation by the taxpayer-funded Calaveras County Public Defender’s office, which typically represents indigent and destitute defendants who can’t afford their own lawyers. And for the superior court judge who inexplicably granted Buller’s motion (although another judge reversed it and the Public Defender’s Office withdrew its representation).
• For the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, which did not include any Calaveras County residents on a citizens’ committee appointed to consider a $1.6 billion plan to raise Pardee Reservoir, which straddles the Calaveras-Amador county line. Had local members been on the panel, maybe EBMUD would have realized the extent of foothill opposition to the plan.
• To members of Congress, who continued — since 1989 — to vote themselves an automatic pay raise. (This year it’s an additional $4,700). At a time when their constituents are facing unemployment, furloughs, home foreclosures and reductions in wages, we would expect a more sympathetic and enlightened response. We encourage responsible members to return that portion of their salary to the Treasury.