Taxed to the hilt
I have just read your editorial of July 10, and for the most part I agree.
However, there is one area in which I strongly disagree — and that was your statement concerning the inability of the California Legislature to tax “big oil to the hilt.” The truth of the matter is that the state and various counties have “taxed big oil to the hilt.” As a result, “big oil” has left or is leaving the state in droves, taking with it jobs and tax revenues.
That is part of the reason our state is in such dire financial straits. If the state would once again allow the exploration and production of oil — on and offshore — it would provide untold numbers of jobs, plus taxes and royalties to the state coffers that would more than offset the current financial crises.
Modern technology allows the production of oil, while preserving the environment that we all want to protect. To not use that resource seem ludicrous to me. Meanwhile, we are paying through the nose for imported oil and reaping no benefits except to enrich our enemies.
Common sense needs to prevail here.
The Grand Jury report has confirmed the need for consolidation of our many school districts to eliminate the current waste in our school system. The voters of Tuolumne County have previously submitted a petition to put this on a ballot, but were denied due process at the state level. This was due to the lobbying efforts of our local school administrators, who cited a reduction in school funding for each district.
The Grand Jury report now indicates that consolidation could result in a possible increase of $3 million more in state funding a year. The current economic situation demands cost-effective programs.
I am disappointed that our county schools superintendent does not have the authority or leadership role to make our education system more cost effective. Status quo is not acceptable.
With consolidation, many of the following daily operations could be made more efficient: Transportation. We now have buses from different school districts running the same route with a minimum number of students aboard.
Business offices of each district are fully staffed and providing the same services, school calendars are not coordinated. Food programs are not standardized. Maintenance departments have duplicate staff and equipment costs. School boards are at each site, some with monthly stipends.
Negotiation of teacher salaries and benefits should be at the countywide level. Curriculums should be coordinated countywide, which would result in lower textbook costs.
I want to recognize those school district boards who have combined services and reduced or eliminated their stipends due to the economic conditions. We need more of this from our elected officials. If not, a ballot measure should be pursued.
I am writing this in hope that you will publish an article about the well-known fact that there are really no recreational spots for teenagers in Angels Camp.
The Police Department is always hassling teenagers for hanging out in front of local stores, such as Rite Aid and Save Mart. But officers also hassle us when we hang out at Utica Park, their excuse being that we are too old or too big to be hanging around younger children, and that we are bad influences.
I believe that if this were to be brought to the attention of the people, maybe something will be done. I personally have been stopped or nearly cited for things as little as sitting at the bus stop that used to be in front of Save Mart. If you could please publish an article about the lack of “hang-out” spots for teenagers, I think it might help make business owners happy, and we, the teenagers out of trouble.
Dillon C. Green
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Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties