Union Democrat staff

Darndest things

To the editor:

Republicans say the darndest things:

•"Look, what (President Obama's) talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the U.S. government as possible ... I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work ... I hope he fails." - Rush Limbaugh, Jan. 22.

•"We may have lost the vote, but we collectively have won the debate ... Our next goal is to make President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress own it completely." - Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, Feb. 12.

•"Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban ... And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes." - Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Feb. 4.

I understand that they're the opposition party. But don't they realize that when they talk about failure and disruption, they're talking about us? As much as I was appalled by the policies of President Bush, I always hoped that, against all odds, they would have a positive outcome.

What's wrong with these people, for them to hope that policies supported by a strong majority of the American people would fail? Oh well, at least one of them believes in brutal honesty. "You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point." - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Fox News, Feb. 13.

Greg Falken


Successful programs

To the editor:

Juvenile programs like New Horizons and victim-impact classes provided by the Tuolumne County Probation Department are the kind of successful programs that must be recognized by the Legislature, which is nearly 100 days into budget negotiations.

Rather than looking at cutting dollars to local probation departments, the state should be looking at increasing prevention and intervention programs at the local level. Continued investment in these programs will prevent juvenile offenders from sentences in Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), moving into our state prison system, backlogging our court system and victimizing innocent people in our communities. Also, thus saves a huge amount of tax dollars in the immediate and long term.

Juvenile probation services have been a success over the past decade. Through the use of evidence-based intervention and rehabilitation, probation departments have been successful at dramatically decreasing the number of juveniles incarcerated within the DJJ, which is an extremely costly and inefficient and should be reserved only for the most dangerous juvenile offenders.

The juvenile population has increased 26 percent in the last 10 years, but juvenile felony arrests have been reduced by 48 percent statewide. Misdemeanors are down by 26 percent, and the population in state juvenile facilities, over 10,000 a decade ago, is now under 2,000.

Low recidivism rates in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties just add to the evidence that the probation model works to prevent crime, reduce prison population and ultimately saves tax dollars. To ignore the opportunities that local juvenile probation resources present is to ignore common-sense fiscal policies that California taxpayers deserve, and will put the safety of our communities at risk.

Don Meyer

President, Chief Probation Officers

Association of Calfornia

Woodland, Yolo County

System is wrong

To the editor:

The money markets have collapsed because they were not backed by anything of great value, no tangible assets. The same thing has happened in the housing market. The home buyer who had poor credit was in a house he couldn't afford. This was brought about by banks that were shuffling mortgages and hiding the fact that there was no real money. The lenders now blame the borrowers and the borrowers blame the banks. Neither one is right. The system is wrong and must be changed. This is not like playing Monopoly - you must have real jobs and real money.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "In this age and in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail: against it, nothing can succeed." How true are his words at this time. Lots of people have become very wealthy by doing nothing but playing with money made by hard working people. What happened to antitrust laws? Why is our tax system filled with loopholes and why is it that only tax lawyers for the wealthiest can figure ways to avoid paying?

If you are worried about "bridges to nowhere" in the stimulus package, stop. When San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was built, it went to a few chicken farms and cow pastures. The head engineer died thinking he was a failure for such a costly and foolish project. Now look at it! We must put America back to work.

Ron Sawyer


Prosecute Bush

To the editor:

All citizens and their representatives should act in order that history will forgive us for not doing more to stop an illegal war and torture. Our two previous leaders should be prosecuted for international crimes: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Nuremburg is the precedent that demands that crimes of the state merit punishment by the heads of that state.

Dennis Schneider

Angels Camp