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DSA should give more thought to endorsements

It can get odd when public employee unions become active in local politics — when the tail is most likely to wag the dog.

It got downright uncomfortable last week, however, when the Calaveras County Deputy Sheriff's Association (DSA) staked out a position on the Ridge at Trinitas project near Valley Springs.

The union's representatives said the project — a golf course now envisioned as a resort development — will bolster the county's economy and, therefore, deputies' job security. They urged the county Board of Supervisors to OK it.

It's odd not just because such a stance seems beyond the DSA's scope. Rather, the DSA in the same breath appeared to say that violations of certain laws can be overlooked for short-term gains.

The laws in question were mainly county regulations and environmental codes.

Trinitas thus far has been built without approval or permits, involved some landscape work potentially violating federal environmental laws, and was done on some land under a Williamson Act contract, which gave owner, Mike Nemee, property tax breaks for keeping the land agricultural (that is, not building a golf course or laying the groundwork for a future resort).

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service officials have recently recommended, in consultation with appropriate agencies, that some of the work be undone. The project also is undergoing some overdue review by the county now, hence the DSA's posture.

The DSA's desire to be more active locally is no secret.

"The DSA is starting to take a more proactive stance on various issues that affect its members," DSA President Tracy Busby explained the Trinitas endorsement.

Major planning issues will be under consideration in the near future. A pair of important elections also are approaching — November's Board of Supervisors race and 2010's sheriff's election.

So more endorsements could be forthcoming. We only hope the DSA will give them more consideration.

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