Union Democrat staff


To the editor:

Our democracy and our freedoms require constant vigilance against the self-serving, short-sighted forces that care nothing for these historic national values. This current destructive attempt to subvert our system is a classic example.

Virginia Bennett

Mokelumne Hill

Single payer

To the editor:

President Barack Obama promises health-care reform, but he has virtually taken single-payer health care off the table. Single-payer is the system that removes private insurance companies from the picture: The government pays all the bills, but health-care delivery remains private. People still get their choice of what doctor to go to and what hospital to use. Single-payer reduces the administrative costs and removes the profit that insurance companies add to health-care delivery. Single-payer solutions, however, get almost no space in the debate. So far only two people have been invited out of the 120 to contribute to the "reform" that has been promised by this administration.

The major media have been very reluctant to cover single-payer stories. Coming to mind would be the accusations (like in the financial disaster) of "socialism" or other derogatory descriptions. Most who impugn the prospect of single-payer and use those types of accusations haven't a clue what they are talking about and will not spend time to research the subject objectively.

And, of course, the hugely profitable corporations, which have made a disastrous commodity out of our societal well being, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat even a remote idea of single-payer.

Yet support is wide spread, from economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz ("I've reluctantly come to the view that it's the only alternative") to health-care providers themselves, who witness and endure the system's failure firsthand. The newly formed, 150,000-nurses-strong United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee said: "It is the only health-care-reform proposal that can work."

Will we join the rest of the civilized world and consider the health of our citizens as, "the wealth of our country?"

Bert Canepa


Who's crazy?

To the editor:

In these times of budget shortfalls and grand proposals to right the ship, I have a few ideas.

First, the few legislators who had the courage to stray from the party line to pass a budget, should be given medals instead of being censured by their party. I don't know when the oath of office for these legislators changed from "upholding the laws of the state" to upholding the laws of the party, but if it has I think other changes are in order. Maybe we should change out all those who have forgotten that they are there for what is best for the state. And, for that matter, federal legislators who have forgotten they are there for the good of the country.

Second, since the number of both federal and state legislators was established over 150 years ago, it may be time to rethink how many we are supporting. With the changes in communications, media coverage and our electronic world, it's possible that we have too many. Certainly more than we can afford.

Maybe we should combine congressional districts. We would eliminate not only politicians, but their bloated staffs. The money we save could be used in much better places than their pockets. This may just be "the out of the box thinking" they keep telling us we need. Let's get them out of the box.

In a management quality class I attended several years ago, insanity was defined as "doing things the same way over and over but expecting a different result". If our elected officials can continue to get us to re-elect them, maybe we are the crazy ones.

Tom Nishcwitz


Flexibility asked

To the editor:

On April 1, nearly a third of the state's gas stations could be forced to shut off their pumps. An estimated 3,400 stations cannot afford to comply with a new state mandate that requires them to purchase new equipment.

This means that more people will be out of jobs, and commuters will have to drive further to fill up.

But this disaster can be prevented.

The 11 members of the California Air Resources Board, a committee in charge of regulating the state's air issues, can act within their power to provide flexibility for these gas stations, their employees and their costumers.

CARB is stubbornly sticking to its ruling that gas stations must install new expensive gas-dispensing nozzles to capture 98 percent of the vapor emissions instead of the current 95 percent.

Due to our nation's banking and economic troubles, these gas stations - many are small business owners - cannot afford to finance up to $80,000 to install these new nozzles.

Gas stations owned by major oil corporations have complied with CARB's mandate that gas stations be retrofitted with an Enhanced Vapor Recover Phase II system and they should be applauded for their efforts.

Independent gas stations, however, have had a very difficult time. They need some flexibility in the state's regulation to survive this recession.

The goal to achieve cleaner air for California is one that we can all support. But this should not be done at the expense of workers whose families depend on their paychecks.

CARB members should show compassion by delaying the regulations until the economy recovers.

Dave Cox,

state senator

Fair Oaks

(Dave Cox represents California's First Senatorial District, which includes Calaveras County).

Neighborhood schools

To the editor:

Last year Sullivan Creek Elementary School was honored as a California Distinguished School. Now the Curtis Creek School Board is seriously considering changing Sullivan Creek to a K-2 school, bringing it one step closer to closure.

As a parent, I am angry. Not only could this decision affect my children, it could affect my property values in a market that has already dropped significantly. Times are tough for everyone, and everyone must sacrifice something for the good of all. Our children are hurting too. Changing schools adds to their stress.

Schools are businesses and they need a unique product or service to draw customers/parents. Sullivan Creek has proven to be that draw in a struggling district by attracting home and private schoolers, and students from other districts.

Changing Sullivan Creek to a K-2 school impacts the Distinguished School status. Changing the dynamics of Sullivan Creek will eliminate that unique product and alienate customers. How valuable is a setting if you remove the gem? These days, parents have options. They will seek the business that best suits their needs.

Trustees say they are listening to the parents. Are they really? Why won't they consider other options? There was no discussion at kindergarten registration to include the opinions of incoming parents. At prior meetings a transportation cost analysis had not been considered. Do the Curtis Creek parents understand that their child may spend more time on a bus far from home?

Come to the meeting on March 30 at 6 p.m. in the Curtis Creek cafeteria. We all need to pay attention to our neighborhood schools, and together we can be heard.

Christine Dibble

Crystal Falls

Respect for others

To the editor:

How naive, Mr. Doot (letter, March 3). Mr. Pyke may have been crude in trying to get his point across, but his points are valid. We are not talking fully automatic weapons, we are talking about the look and feel of the current weapons technology.

I personally like guns of the Old West and WWII/Korean era. Younger people are more familiar and comfortable with guns that represent their era; e.g., my son as a Marine in Afghanistan is more comfortable with the AR15 type of rifle.

There are countries and people who hate the U.S.A. I feel that all citizens are responsible for the defense of our country and should have training. Our military has been cut to the bone by our "leaders" and needs the back up.

As most anti-gunners, you think laws affect criminals. Australia outlawed guns. Law abiding citizens turned theirs in. Now only criminals have guns and crime has drastically increased.

As law enforcement struggles with budget cuts, I support weapons for personal defense. Hate-organizations, gangs and children resorting to violence are problems caused by upbringing and cannot be corrected with gun control.

As with anything else, e.g. driving a car, training and emphasis on safety is required. All law-abiding gun owners stress safety to all members of their families. Many of our gun laws are unreasonable, showing either ignorance or the fanaticism of anti-gun zealots. People fear what they don't understand, causing most problems in our world. A little respect for others could go a long way toward coexistence. I am glad that you have no fear and peace of mind, but your lack of awareness will not keep you safe.

Ed Ellefsen


Easter message

To the editor:

Let's lift up and recognize the Resurrection Sunday. Easter, when Jesus was crucified and hung on a cross bleeding and dying for our sins, will soon be upon us. If we would believe in him, we will be saved and have eternal life.

He suffered and died that day. But, hallelujah, he arose again three days later to reign with us even more. He left us the Holy Ghost to comfort us till he returns in the clouds of glory to gather those home who believe in him.

So this Easter, those who believe will worship Jesus at sunrise services or church services. Or will remember him at family gatherings, picnics, or for families and children, especially at the traditional egg hunts.

The eggs, chickens, and rabbits are a sign of fertility (life). Jesus is everlasting life.

From his birth at Christmas to his resurrection, lets praise him. Those who do not believe are still crucifying our lord. All Christians, and that's everyone who believes in God in church or not, should stand up and protect our moral beliefs and God's foundation.

Barbara Melchor