Union Democrat staff

Blue bag outrage

To the editor:

Outrage is all I can say. We are constantly being hit with "think green," protect our environment, recycle, recycle, buy products that are green. Yesterday I put my garbage out along with a blue bag with recycle plastics.

Guess what? Along came the garbage truck and the men took everything that was put out at my house and my neighbors' and threw it into the back with wet garbage, blue bags, and all. It is all going to the same place.

I asked the driver why? His comment was we don't have trucks for picking up recyclables, so it all goes to the same dump.

What's going on? Locals are losing jobs, we can't cut trees, we must cut back, but we can't afford to have a recycle truck to protect our environment, and put people to work doing what is good for our earth?

Hope people read this and are as upset as I am.

Knute Kleinen


CSERC response

To the editor:

An April 17th letter by forester Mike Vroman contained major false statements. He attacked CSERC for supposedly causing a shortage of

wood for SPI's mills.

Vroman charged that CSERC supports a 12" diameter limit on trees logged in the national forest. That's absolutely untrue. CSERC has repeatedly endorsed logging trees up to 30" in Forest Service timber sales.

Vroman claimed that CSERC litigated over 50% of Forest Service projects last year. Again, that's completely false. In 19 years, CSERC has NEVER litigated against a Forest Service timber sale. When a recent Stanislaus Forest timber sale was appealed by an extreme group from outside the local area, CSERC actually sided with the timber industry against the extreme environmental group. CSERC works collaboratively with USFS timber sale planners and has accepted (sometimes begrudgingly) every Stanislaus Forest timber sale for many years.

Vroman was correct that CSERC has sued to attempt to force SPI to better protect wildlife and water resources when doing widespread clearcutting across local private timberlands. CSERC's two lawsuits over 15 years have both pressed for compliance with existing forestry regulations. In the main case, an appellate court fully agreed with our legal position before that decision was eventually overturned by the State Supreme Court, which deferred to the judgment of state forestry officials.

It is understandable that anyone facing a layoff might look for somebody to blame. But the mills aren't closing from any wood shortage. The opposite is true. SPI is producing more wood from its many mills than the housing market currently needs. Unfortunately, until the economy finally turns around, the low demand for wood will likely result in fewer mills operating.

John Buckley, executive director

Central Sierra Environmental

Resource Center

Twain Harte

Let them go broke

To the editor:

For all those that have been spinning the idea that the Democratic party stands for general public: You have been drinking too much. Last I read, Obama has pledged $12.8 trillion in taxpayers' money to bail out every badly run business.

Let them all go broke like they deserve. We will see in a few months how many of you will not even admit to voting for our great savior. What a joke you are, to think this can work.

Ray Drake


Immature, greedy

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Proposition 1D.

I do not agree with this proposition as the state's way of trying to save money. It is immature and greedy. I am empathetic to the fact that they need funds, but taking it from California families and children is not the way to solve this issue.

Reducing the funds of First 5 Commission is not a way to make things better. It will result in devastating the families that rely on First 5 for their services to their children. This proposition takes away $268 million a year from First 5 for "only" five years, but it you know the government, you know that when five years has passed those funds will never be returned.

Fifty percent of First 5's revenue from tobacco tax will be lost if Proposition 1D passes and things like training child care providers, providing low income children with health insurance and healthcare, and developing new preschool facilities in underserved communities are at risk. I am in college and majoring in early childhood development. Everyone keeps telling me that the children are the hope of the future and, after working with them and seeing them flourish, I know that it is true. Those who are parents know that it is true, too.

So why is our government trying to stifle the hope of our future? Of their future? I do not believe that Proposition 1D should be passed and I will actively say No on my ballot in May. The government needs to take responsibility for its own actions and poor budgeting.

Ashley Bleadorn


TUD protest

To the editor:

Regarding the Tuolumne Utilities District's proposed five-year water rate increase:

You need to know your meter size as you read the letter. The meter size is stated on your bill. Our meter is 1 inch, and we had to contact TUD to get the appropriate information. Instead of a proposed 35.5 percent increase, we're looking at a 41 percent increase.

This information should have been forthright in TUD's letter. The letter did clarify that the "base rate" does not include water usage. Therefore, it will be impossible to compensate for the proposed increases with water conservation.

It's not clear to me how well TUD is managing its current funds. Recent decisions by TUD about upcoming spending are not encouraging. TUD should explain how it can better manage spending to reduce rate increases.

I have the utmost respect for TUD's staff and don't doubt for a minute that we will continue to get the best water and service possible. Regarding the five-year rate-increase schedule: it overrides ratepayers' entitlement to public hearings each and every time TUD wants to raise rates. I do not want to give up that right.

If a majority of ratepayers protest in writing, TUD cannot implement the increase. At the April 15 workshop, it was clear that some of the TUD Board members also have concerns about the rate increases. Please don't feel that your opinion doesn't count. It does, and you can do something about it. If you choose to protest, you need to do so in writing and be sure it's in the board's hands no later than 4 p.m. on May 12. Or bring your protests to the meeting.

Virginia Ellefsen


Supremacist graffiti

To the editor:

I assume that this is simply an oversight on the part of the Tuolumne County Public Works Department and am hopeful it will be resolved with the usual effectiveness of those county staff members.

I have noticed, as has anyone who regularly travels the Parrotts Ferry Bridge, that every set of lovers' initials, every use of profanity, every name of a band, and, usually, every piece of gang-related graffiti is quickly painted over.

However, the gang-related "WP," with two lightning bolts, has been there for at least four years and has never been covered or removed. Surely everyone is aware that this is white supremacist (White Pride) graffiti/tagging, representing a neo-Nazi perspective in our community.

As I said at the head of this letter, I am sure this is an oversight. But imagine what this says about Tuolumne and Calaveras counties as people view a collage of different paints covering up everything offensive ever painted on the bridge except the white supremacist tagging. I believe this demands immediate attention in the interest of common decency.

Andrew Reese


People first

To the editor:

I feel that in these tough times we need to remember that we are a small, supportive community. What happened to helping one another?

My friend Stephanie, who comes from a good family, is well known in our community and is very kind, had her car towed from a Tuolumne County convenience store. There is a ridiculous sign that says, "No overnight parking." That is fine, but what happens when it is not overnight? The store closes at midnight, we arrive to pick up the car at 1:40 a.m. This is not considered overnight in many of our opinions. I am furious that she had to pay $300.

The owners have no understanding of why her car was there. I could understand if it was there the next morning when business was busy, but it was not.

We all do business there often, but in this situation many of us are questioning if we should continue. We feel the store does not care about its customers, and that concerns me. Our community is about putting people first, not about destroying them.

Angela Warne

Mi-Wuk Village