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The Union Democrat welcomes letters for publication on any subject as long as they are tasteful and responsible, and are signed with the full name of the writer (include a phone number and address, for verification purposes only). Letters should not exceed 300 words. A maximum of one letter per writer can be published every two weeks. The newspaper reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, taste and style. Please, no business thank-you’s, business endorsements, or poetry. We will not publish consumer complaints against businesses or personal attacks.

Letters may be submitted by email at letters@uniondemocrat.com or by mail, 84 S. Washington St., Sonora 95370 and by FAX, 209-532-6451. Guest opinions, columns and editorial cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Union Democrat editorial board.

Tuolumne County needs a long term water solution

The water supply of Tuolumne County is vital to the growth and future of this community. This water supply from Pinecrest Lake and Lyons Reservoir, which are owned and operated by PG&E, serves the needs of the residences, commercial businesses, schools, industry, government, the hospital, a growing agricultural industry, fire protection, etc. in Tuolumne County. 

Currently there are no other readily available and properly located sources of water supply available to Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) or its customers, which can meet the current and future water needs of the community. Unlike other water agencies, TUD does not export any of this water outside the county.

This summer, as you are well aware, has been an exceptionally dry and hot summer. With a low snowpack, the water supply for the county has been reduced. Not only do we have to be concerned about the water supply but also how the state government is controlling access to this water. 

As we have all experienced, the state government is extending its reach and influence into our daily lives; not always to the benefit of our pocketbook or the way we choose to live our lives. 

In 2009 the state changed the way TUD could receive water deliveries from PG&E from Pinecrest Lake, the main water supply for TUD. The state set a minimum water surface elevation at Pinecrest Lake (as measured at Labor Day) that is 13 percent higher than it has historically been operated by PG&E. This action of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has reduced our access to water supply, significantly increased the cost to TUD customers, and at the same time forced TUD to restrict its customer’s water consumption.

TUD has been working closely for three years with the state in an effort to reduce the restrictions on the Pinecrest Lake elevation. Based on the results of a Lake Level Study completed by PG&E, TUD and PG&E have submitted a request asking the SWRCB to modify the lake level restriction to more closely match the way the lake level has always been managed, and at the same time provide for ongoing water supply for our community. In this request, TUD is not trying to “drain” Pinecrest Lake. Rather, TUD and PG&E are trying to convince the state that the lake elevation restriction should be consistent with the agreements reached through many years and hundreds of meetings among TUD, the Forest Service, PG&E, environmental groups and others. The Lake Level Study clearly showed that recreation would not be impacted at the requested lower elevations.

This year, the SWRCB approved a one-time variance to the lake level restriction. As part of its approval, the state required TUD to impose mandatory water restrictions on its customers. Prior to the lake level restriction, the agreement with PG&E and the water supply from Pinecrest Lake provided a reliable water supply well into the future without additional significant financial investment. 

Unfortunately that has changed and with the current restriction, as now this county is extremely limited on water supply for future economic growth. 

We simply cannot leave the fate of the water supply for the county in the hands of the state each and every year or we will surely find ourselves with less water available and the associated economic loss, as well as increased cost to the community.

TUD and its predecessors have long been considering other water supply options such as increased groundwater use, increased water storage at new or existing reservoirs, reservoir restoration, securing water rights independent of PG&E, and increased water conservation. Each of these requires many years and millions of dollars to accomplish. All take risk and community compromise. That is the purpose of the upcoming joint meeting of TUD Board of Directors and the county Board of Supervisors, being held at 1:30 Tuesday in the County Board of Supervisors Chambers. 

The time is now for us to join together as a community. 

This includes knowing the truth about the current condition of the supply, threats to it, as well as opportunities for improvement to ensure that a reliable supply of water is available for current and future generations of residents and visitors to Tuolumne County.

Pete Kampa is the general manager of Tuolumne Utilities District.

Letters to the Editor for August 13, 2012

Early voting a
matter of fairness

To the Editor,

There are 88 counties in the state of Ohio. Sixty-seven of them are considered “red” or Republican and 21 are considered “blue,” or Democratic. There are two Democrats and two Republicans on an elections committee for each county. 

The committees were asked to vote to allow early voting, meaning staying open evenings and weekends so people could more easily vote in the weeks before the regular election (last time the lines were unbelievably long). 

In all of the “red” counties the vote was both Republicans, and both Democrats voting to allow early voting. Both sides agreeing that this was best for everyone. When the votes were counted for the “blue” counties, the two Democrats voted for the early voting but the two Republicans voted “No” in every one. 

None of those counties will allow it. Isn’t that strange? 

This is yet another example of Republicans trying to make voting more difficult for voters...obviously, the Democratic voters. This is going on everywhere...intimidation through requiring I.D.’s or making it difficult to just stand in line for hours to vote. And it is aimed at people in union and black states in particular...people that historically vote Democratic. 

If Republicans cannot win fairly, they will win unfairly. That is becoming more obvious everyday! 

Judy Herring 


Reduced school days at Sonora High

To the Editor,

This comment answers an article about Sonora High School having fewer days this coming year. Twenty? 

I really find it very hard to see a high school with so many high paid administrators at one single school. Five administrators are making close to $100,000 a year or over and there are still layoffs and a coming shorter year. 

I find it very hard to see that the students at, or coming into Sonora High School, are important at all! 

You tell me that you need a superintendent and principal on the same school campus? Perhaps they could split a year so that only one is on campus at a time and only one very high salary coming out of a slim budget? 

These very lopsided conditions really sadden me and I only hope that someday there is a board that has the spirit to make a difference during these hard times. 

Cutting the school year 20 days should never be an option!

Paulina Sanfilippo 


A right to your opinion, not facts

To the Editor,

You have the right to your own opinion but not your own facts. A recent letter, trying to shift blame away from President Bush, stated that “Bush had a Democratic House and Senate.”

Not true until 2006. That’s why he could immediately get rid of the “pay-go” plan that helped the Clinton Administration reduce the deficit every year for eight years in a row. That’s why he could pass massive tax cuts for the rich.

Everyone agrees that we need 150,000 new jobs every month to just break even. That’s about 14 million new jobs every 8 years. Clinton raised taxes and produced 22 million jobs. Bush cut taxes and produced two million new jobs. 

Do you think the fact that the Bush years fell 12 million jobs short has anything to do with the fact that the current unemployment is 15 million?

The government only considers you unemployed if you are still looking for a job. In the Bush years, millions of people quit looking for a job so the unemployment rate stayed artificially low. Obama gave people hope so they started looking for jobs again (Just as the housing bubble burst). After 6 straight month of job losses of 750,000 per month, the stimulus plan passed and in just over a year we were producing 250,000 jobs per month. 

Job growth has been positive ever since with 4.5 million new jobs in the last 29 months. 

Re-elect Obama.

Bob Gould


Letters to the editor for August 10, 2012

Occupy Wall Street

To the Editor,

Re: Occupy Wall Street Being one of the few remaining “Occupiers” of Sonora that the reader might have observed on Saturday mornings at Courthouse Square, I have been often asked, “What are you all about?” 

Since we have no formal creed, and none of us has been authorized to speak for the rest, I would like to offer the following quotation as a succinct explanation of the gist of our various notions. It appears on page 261 of E.J. Dionne Jr.’s new book, “Our divided political heart.”

“Populist anger against Wall Street, whether in 1935 or 2011, arose not from envy or jealousy but from a belief in the public obligations imposed by a republican conception of citizenship. Sometimes in inchoate ways and sometimes explicitly, the Occupy Wall Street protesters were speaking from this grand republican tradition. ...the Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and Populist arguments for greater economic equality rest, finally, on republican ideas: that citizens in a free republic need a degree of economic security, independence, and self-sufficiency to carry out their civic duties and to participate fully in self-government. Plutocracy is antithetical to both democracy and republicanism. Our Founders were sensitive to this in a way that recent Supreme Court decisions were not.” 

If you agree with the above, you might consider joining us once-in-awhile on Saturday mornings, for smiles, laughter, and often stimulating conversation.

David Fristad


Suggestions on political change

To the Editor,

Assuming that the current political climate and campaigns are undermining the health of American society, the following proposals are hereby submitted: 

1. Campaigns shall be publicly funded. Donations shall go into a  Public Campaign Fund. 

2. Nominees shall be selected in a political convention held the week before Labor Day. Primary campaigns shall be abolished. 

3. Potential candidates for the Presidency shall present no more than five position papers of not less than 3000 words no more than 4000 the week before the convention. 

4. After Labor Day and before the November election the candidates shall participate in four public debates. Each debate shall focus on only one topic. 

5. The Electoral College shall be abolished and the winner of the election shall be determined by direct popular vote. 

6. The newly elected President shall serve for only one term of six years duration; US Senators shall serve for a maximum of three terms and members of the House of Representatives for a maximum of six terms; Supreme Court Justices shall serve a maximum of eighteen years.

Daniel Connell


Colo. shooting and 2nd Amendment 

To the Editor,

With regards to the recent Aurora shooting: Theaters can enhance their security by installing silent alarms on the screening rooms’ outside exits that feed back to a monitored panel. Especially during showings when employees are unlikely to be performing duties that include passing through those doors such an alarm could quickly alert theater security personnel and could even be transmitted to local law enforcement. And this wouldn’t in my humble opinion interfere one iota with viewers’ experience. 

Under certain situations, a medical provider is required to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles that a patient needs to have their driving privilege temporarily or permanently suspended. 

Psychiatrists should also be required to notify the Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Investigation, etc., about patients showing likely homicidal or suicidal intentions, that they would be excluded from lawful firearm purchases until cleared. 

Sure, this breaches patient-doctor confidentiality but the empirical evidence is mounting that in the interest of greater public safety such change is warranted. This precaution wouldn’t impact law abiders at-large one iota in my humble opinion. 

I know I’m not alone in seeing the above as common-sense solutions to real problems. Instead of blindly slashing away at our Second Amendment right, let’s be honest and address those real problems. 

Karl Merrill 


Letters to the editor for August 8, 2012

Death and injuries by gun-wielders

To the Editor,

At the risk of incurring the wrath and enmity of the self-proclaimed “patriots” of the National Rifle Association (including draft-dodgers George W. Bush and Dick Cheney), I suggest that the NRA alter its name to the National Automatic Guns Association (NAGA) in view of the death and injuries wrought across America by gun-wielders in the recent years.

Ray Mellana


Our freedoms are
being threatened

To the Editor, 

Here’s your Republican candidate for president. Just bought a house here in California for a touch over $12 million. A few months later he files for a tax reduction because he says his house is only worth half of the value he paid. He just does not want to pay the California 1 percent value per Prop. 13. Here’s the point. You want a president who’s just admitted he paid too much for his new house when he’s a business genius. Just think, if he waited 6 months he could have got the house for half price.

As to some recent letters. Your freedoms are being threatened. Right wing Koch party Republicans are suppressing voting rights countrywide. Over 14 anti-female bills introduced in the house. The Supreme Court shuts down Republican Communism in Michigan. Gun control. I ask the NRA to come to Groveland and replace all the road signs shot up by local gun toting loyal NRA members. Remember these are paid for by people’s taxes. I guess if get you hit by a stray bullet you’ve become a victim of someone else’s rights. And to the black statue. You can’t hide your racial prejudice by claiming free speech!

Obama. Just one thing we all should be proud of. Over 30 million people will now have access to health care through the ACA. Just think, now we all have access to Death Panels of our choosing. How cool is that. 

Jim Hassay


Insults thrown
at GOP unfair 

 To the Editor,

With some frequency, letters from Democrats appear on this page, ascribing various negative characteristics to Republicans. Most recently, a letter writer linked the hateful effigy on Phoenix Lake Road to the GOP. 

It’s confounding, but nevertheless true, that adherents of the Left are complacent and comfortable in leveling unsubstantiated insults. It would be beneficial for them to consider that here in Tuolumne County they are insulting the majority of voters and thus must hold a negative view of the majority of their neighbors. 

Surely if leftist letter writers were asked if they felt their next door neighbors were racists, they would at least think twice before applying such a characterization. 

Michael Ackley


Letters to the editor for August 9, 2012

State Park fiscal mismanagement

To the Editor,

Like everyone else I found the news that the California State Parks had “misplaced” $54 million very disturbing and frustrating. 

The mismanagement of funds at the State level should not be held against the dedicated employees and volunteers of Railtown. 

As a member of the Twain Harte Rotary Club, I know our community stepped up in a huge way to support the Rotary fund raisers that raised $75,000 over the last four months. 

With the $75,000 being matched by the Sonora Area Foundation, the $150,000 will keep Railtown open through June 2013. 

Although Rotary was scheduled to release the first of three $25,000 payments to the Parks Dept on July 31, these funds will not be disbursed until Rotary knows how the issue of the $54 million will be resolved. 

Rotary is committed to seeing that the money raised by the community will only be spent on Railtown. A committee of community leaders continue to meet to develop a business plan for Railtown that will make it the number one destination in central California. 

A viable and sustainable Railtown will be a critical component of the economic well being of Tuolumne County in the coming years.

John Zach 

Twain Harte

Don’t make a Mitt-stake in 2012

To the Editor,

The picture of cash bursting from his suit should be enough; or an elevator for his cars in one of his mansions; or his wife’s horsey-prancing hobby, “Dressage” or that not one of his 5 military-aged sons have ever enlisted; or refusing to disclose more than 2010 taxes and 2011 “summary,” despite the precedent set by his father and that he has Swiss and off-shore, tax-deferred accounts, all should be enough to see why, without fail, he doesn’t know what a doughnut is: Romney’s clueless to the plight of the working class because he’s the poster child for America’s one percent. 

Such elitist lifestyles have fallen on the back of the Common Man like a house on a witch in Oz, and a vote for Romney is a vote for Wall St., Monsanto, Sheldon Adelson, the brothers Koch and all lifetime members of the “Too Big to Fail” club. 

Like those Supreme judges who decreed, in Citizens United, corporations as “people” therefore, eligible to donate unlimited, anonymous amounts to political parties — insulting those whose checkbooks couldn’t cover the mortgage, saying corporate wealth doesn’t influence elections. 

Well, if B.S. was a sport — that won Olympic gold! But now that corporations are “people,” aren’t they beholden to laws, not just campaigns? 

Shouldn’t Freddie and Fannie be in prison, CitiCorp on trial and “people” like BP, Halliburton, JP Morgan on death row? 

I don’t despise wealth, earned or bequeathed; I despise avarice, hypocrisy and politicians sold to the highest bidder. Real people, like Hannity, Rush & egregious public servants, avoid truth and propagate lies because they can afford membership in Romney’s club. 

Don’t make a Mitt-stake in 2012.

M.C. Long


Obama sign on Phoenix Lake Road

To the Editor,

The man who lives at the foot of Phoenix Lake with his strange caricature has to be admired, I suppose, for his tenacity and willingness to express his opinions. 

However, when I first drove drive by his place some time back, what originally struck me is that his cartoon-ish figure must be the construction paper project of a third-grader. 

Then I realized it wasn’t when I saw the various Letters to the Editor in this very space. 

But I feel he is expressing something more that I don’t like: apparent in his caricature is racism, and a downright mean and nasty attitude toward our president. 

Like the man or not, and I personally have mixed feelings, he is our duly-elected president. 

No matter what one’s politics, he deserves more respect than this third-grader’s apparition. 

What on earth is happening to our country? 

Roberta Goodwin


Letters to the Editor for August 7, 2012


Letters to the Editor for August 6, 2012

Letters to the Editor for August 3, 2012

Letters to the editor for Aug. 1, 2012

Thank you for
senior discounts

To the Editor,

When I was doing my morning prayer time and Bible study on Sunday and thanking the Lord for a senior discount I was given on Friday by a local car repair, I thought, “Why didn’t I write a thank you note directly to the person who gave me the discount?” 

Little did he realize that the $40 discount he gave me could buy groceries for a week for this 77-year-old widow living mostly on Social Security. 

I further thought that I should write thank you notes to the many stores and businesses that routinely give me senior discounts. 

When I add up the senior discounts I receive, it amounts to a fair amount of money. I don’t believe these people really know how much this helps. 

Even pennies add up! 

I just wanted to share this to all businesses over the years that I have received these discounts and really never have thanked them. 

Thank you all businesses throughout the area (and everywhere) for the discounts and know that it really helps!  

Thank you!!

Emma L. George


Heaven help us all

To the Editor,

As Democrats, we respect the right of all Americans to express their opinions, whether we like them or not. 

This Constitutional principle has guided  us with respect to the black pipe caricature of President Obama on Phoenix Lake Road. 

But, even for Democrats, tolerance has limits. 

“Barack — dark Adolf — Obama” is more than an ignorant personal insult. This is the office of the President of the United States, indisputably elected, by the way.

The perfect collaboration of government, business, and the church seems to be the idea of today’s Tea Party activist, fundamentalist Christian dominated Republican Party. This was also Benito Mussolini’s state ideal for his Italian Fascist Party. Most Democrats see the Republican version of “freedom” as freedom for corporations, with unlimited funds — with the government in our bedrooms.

To us, the right wing media babble is as close to Fascist extremism as America has come since the days of McCarthy, or the German-American Bund supporting Adolf Hitler. 

Since George W. Bush opened the doors of government to religious fundamentalists and rampant corporatism, there are now two Americas. And the Republican America of Limbaugh, Fox and Christian talk radio is far more removed from the Party of Eisenhower, or even Reagan. 

There was disagreement then, but also compromise, and a standard of decency. 

Government worked, unlike the gridlock with the party of “No” today.

If Republicans have influence with the fellow on Phoenix Lake Road, they might tell him he is not helping their cause. If they really think he is, then Heaven help us all!

Gilbert Hofacker 


New blood needed
on TUD board

To the Editor,

Four Tuolumne Utilities District board spots are open this election cycle. 

New people are needed that can first of all read and understand financial statements and budgets and know where TUD spends our money. 

More California cities will be declaring bankruptcy all due to a combination of gross mismanagement and incompetent elected officials who gave away over-generous salaries and unsustainable employee and retirement benefits. 

It can happen right here in Tuolumne County with TUD if we continue with the same board. We need a new slate of candidates that can look through the smoke and mirror of a budget and see where our rate increases are going. 

These candidates need to look at our geographic area and realize that they can’t view the budget and salaries as if they were living in Walnut Creek or San Jose. 

This is Tuolumne County and paying people and supplying benefits that put them into the six figures when a lot of people in the private sector aren’t making that. That is not good nor is it fair to our community. 

The TUD mantra of needing to be competitive with other water districts is part of the water monopoly’s talking points. I don’t buy it and neither should you! 

The ideal candidates would have the guts to ask the hard questions and engage in real discussion about how to save this water district from itself. We need experienced and fiscally conservative business people who have worked in both the private as well as public sector and know how to run a business and are not beholden to any union special interest. 

MP McHugh 

Twain Harte


Hang up on scam phone calls

To the Editor,

I found Dave Bremer’s letter of July 30 interesting in that I also received a call from a “Microsoft technician” saying he would help me fix a problem with my computer.  

He said his name was Miguel and when I asked where he was calling from he said he was in New York.  When I told him 1. I don’t have a problem, and 2. I don’t use Windows because I have a Mac, he hung up.  

I received the same call this morning, but this time I beat him to the punch and hung up first.  

Listen to Dave. Listen to me. Hang up.

Iris Gardner


Barack Obama is mediocre at best

To the Editor,

In regard to Dorothy L. Stevens letter of July 27, I say “three cheers!” 

If this country chooses to re-elect Barack Obama, they will get exactly what they deserve, mediocrity at best. 

If this makes me a racist, so be it. 

Janice Keller 


Letters to the editor for July 31, 2012

TUD scare tactics

To the editor,

I opened my Tuolumne Utilities District water bill to find an insert entitled “Understanding our Water Supply.” 

This started out with a lot of good information, but as I read on I was surprised to see the public being told that the state will not let us take water from Pinecrest Lake during the summer in dry years “even if it is needed by TUD customers.” 

This is patently false, as is illustrated by the fact that last week the state allowed us to do just that. 

What puzzles me is that TUD general manager Pete Kampa was present at a meeting on this subject in Sacramento with state water board officials when I asked (as a TUD board member) what would happen if we ran out of water in a dry year. 

The answer was, “Of course we would give you water ... domestic water supply trumps recreation and all other beneficial uses.”

One wonders why Mr. Kampa would put out a misleading statement like this.

Ralph Retherford

Former TUD Director


Gun control doesn’t threaten freedom

To the Editor,

If we as a nation needed any more proof that democracy is being replaced by an oligarchy of the powerful and rich, look no further than the control the National Rifle Association holds over politicians after the latest, but not last, slaughter of innocent people in Colorado. 

As usual, there will be battle lines drawn, albeit temporarily, for and against gun control. Nothing will come of it, because the power the NRA and its puppets have to convince people that “Your freedoms are being threatened” language.  Where are the freedoms of that in society that want freedom from terror, wherever it comes from? Where are the common sense leaders of every state willing to stand up to the gun lobby and restrict the ability to inflict massive carnage?

The NRA and those that blindly follow their dogma will argue that “only criminals will have guns” if there is restrictions on weapons. I can’t believe that responsible gun owners can object to laws that would make it tougher to purchase weapons if lives can be saved as a result. Those who own firearms own a weapon, used for hunting, target competition, self protection, and for a few, killing humans.

Wayne Kirkbride

Twain Harte

Working together to make life better

To the Editor,

It was interesting to read the passionate letters by Klaus Kraemer and Sean Owens in the July 26 Union Democrat.

Klaus presenting the good things that give all of us the enjoyment of experiencing the benefits of living in this great country, and Sean appreciating the opportunities that hard work achieves. 

The connection of these two views seems to be that although we all receive these benefits equally, there are those who use them to achieve the American dream and those who, for whatever reason, fail to do so. 

May we all work together with our individual God-given gifts to donate time and effort to make the lives of all a better one.

Betty Hobbs


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