While we civilians routinely vow to lose weight, get in shape or spend more time with the kids, our public agencies and districts seldom make New Year's resolutions.
Although a few boards will meet at retreats with Magic Marker-armed "facilitators" for brief glimpses into the future, many are too busy putting out the moment's political fires to worry about long-term goals. Other directors or trustees can see their targets, but because of distractions, conflicts, personalities or politics, have been unable to hit them.
With 2008 here, below is our list of New Year's resolutions our leaders might focus on over the next 12 months:
For Calaveras County:
? That the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Dennis Downum follow up on the success of November's Measure J, secure the promised $30 million in state matching funds and move the proposed 240-bed jail toward construction as quickly as possible.
? That supervisors draft and adopt a general plan that reflects the views of most county residents before intervening development renders it ineffective.
? That the board take a more active role in runoff and flood control, continue to press for $800,000 available federal funding, and implement a new county plan to crack down on illegal discharges and construction site runoff.
? That efforts to restore the scandal-torn Building Department to respectability and fairness continue.
? That supervisors and Angels Camp council members, as common sense dictates in the tinder-dry Mother Lode, ban the sale of Fourth of July fireworks.
For Tuolumne County:
? That the Board of Supervisors finally finds an effective, economic and speedy way to close and seal its cash-hemorrhaging Jamestown Landfill.
? That supervisors finally make good on a promise they made more than two years ago in the General Plan's housing element and adopt an inclusionary ordinance requiring developers make a percentage of the homes they build affordable by low and moderate income families.
? That progress continue on the proposed Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road and that construction of a new jail be given the highest priority.
? That Sonora city officials work with both developers and project foes to resolve the long-running and litigious dispute over the stalled Lowe's store.
For the Stanislaus National Forest:
? That those charged with finding a successor to able and accomplished Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn both recognize that the job he started here is not finished and choose someone with the will, diplomacy and technical skills to do so.
? That forest staff members work with off-roaders, cabin owners, timber companies and the environmental community to adopt a new off-highway vehicle plan, draft new and equitable rules for summer home permit holders and advance plans to raise timber harvests through 2011.
For our schools:
? That Reps. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, and Dan Lungren, R-Fair Oaks, put party politics aside and work tirelessly for passage of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Act, which will provide much-needed aid to school and roads in Tuolumne, Calaveras and scores more rural counties impacted by tax-exempt federal land within their borders.
? That our school boards and administrators work toward improving state test scores both in academics and physical fitness and, to that end, they join other districts around the state in fighting any mid-year state budget cuts proposed by the administration.
? That the area's many schools and districts cooperate in any way possible sharing teachers, administrators, buildings, buses and more to assure that our kids get the very most out of each educational dollar.
For us taxpayers:
? That we vote in all three of 2008's elections, go to board meetings, meet our appointed and elected representatives and speak up. Because without an active and informed citizenry, the responsive decision-making that might turn our suggested resolutions and yours to reality has a far slimmer chance of happening.
Union Democrat editorial positions are formed through regular meetings of the newspaper's editorial board Publisher Geoff White; editor Teresa Chebuhar; managing editor, news Craig Cassidy; senior reporter-columnist Chris Bateman.