Union Democrat staff

Environmental terrorists

To the editor:

Regarding the March 25 story about the mill closure. Think back a few years when the economy was booming. Lumber mills were running at capacity. Environmentalists were screaming that loggers were destroying the national forest. If you didn't know better you would have thought that when you woke up the next day there wouldn't be a tree left standing. Now, the mill is closing and hundreds will be jobless, some homeless and many will have a lower standard of living.

John Buckley says, "Now the mill has the supply not the demand." But wait, a few years ago it was "the mill has the demand but not the supply." Don't think for a second that environmentalists care one bit about loggers or mill workers. Their job is to stop the people who harvest natural resources.

Environmentalists don't want domestic lumber, oil, steel, rock, minerals and precious metals. They want everything to be produced in other countries. Maybe all the loggers, cattleman and mill workers should get jobs in some big box stores and America should sell Canadian lumber, South American beef, Russian steel and everything else we need China can take care of.

The demand for natural resources is still here. It is lower, but so much of what we consume and use is imported to the United States. It's really sad to say, but the United States truly is a nation of consumers, not producers. This is because of environmentalists and their ridiculous regulations. Now, the mill is closing and these economic terrorists will have their sights set on something else. Who knows what or where, but you better hope it isn't you.

Gregory W. Burns


Barn fire

To the editor:

Those protesting tax day/stimulus spending are an amusing sort. They are the "bucket brigade" of firefighters who finally woke up from too much partying (in this case, spending and fiscal non-oversight), feel the hangover, but also feel it their duty to do something about the barn on fire that has been smoldering for the previous eight years.

In their indignation, they cover over the fact that they and their political party in power until recently were the stewards of neglect. The barn became a fire trap surrounded by unattended weeds, ready to ignite. Once the flames have brought the crisis to their attention,they quickly start looking for a scapegoat.

It happens to be a community barn, and we'll all have to rebuild it. Sure, paying to repair/rebuild will hurt and the sad thing is, prevention would have been a lot less expensive.

Wayne Kirkbride

Twain Harte

TUD water rates

To the editor:

On one hand, the country is going deep into debt to save the economy from imminent collapse. Republicans call "tea parties" to protest the use of tax money as an economic stimulus. OK, that's their right, although tea parties don't help the country one bit. Already the Republicans seem to have forgotten that the $700 billion bailout was not invented by President Obama. It was Secretary Hank Paulson who announced it in mid-September, and he worked for the Bush administration.

On the other hand, people don't seem to care about the Tuolumne Utilities District's attempts to raise our water rates by 160 percent over the next five years. TUD's reason is to pay down a deficit that had accumulated over years, and the right time for paying down a deficit is, of course, right now - in the face of what could be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

One of the tea party protesters was Joseph Day, who proudly held up a "TEA" sign (Front Page, Union Democrat, April 16). He is a member of the TUD board. I can't believe it's only bad timing.

At the public meeting TUD held in Tuolumne last Friday, a total of eight (8!) citizens showed up. One of them, Carol Southern, commented: "If people don't care, they have no reason to complain. They should just pay those rates."

Sad to say, I'm afraid she's right. The all-important public hearing is on Tuesday, May 12, 7 p.m., at the TUD Board Room at 18885 Nugget Blvd., off Tuolumne Road.

Anyone care to attend - or would you rather have a tea party?

Klaus Kraemer


No on recall

To the editor:

A few recent letters about the Big Oak Flat-Groveland School Board have classically illustrated how little nuggets of truth get blown up and big truths get downplayed.

While it's true that boards ultimately approve employment, it's based on the recommendations of the principals. Sandy Bradley can't now conveniently throw up her hands and say "they did it" when it was her ground work during a period when she was "acting superintendent." People gave her and Mr. Dutton the benefit of the doubt and did so until they could do it no longer.

Robert Wilson wants to make people believe that the board is rude and condescending because members don't publicly discuss board business during meetings. What he fails to mention is that law prohibits them from doing so in many instances.

Lillian Carson wants the board to treat all schools fairly, but fails to mention that because this board has been targeted for recall because it is attempting to treat all schools fairly. She leaves out that the Groveland schools, until now, have generally received preferential treatment. Suddenly they are "victims"? I don't think so.

Much has been made of the fact that our district is now on basic aid. What doesn't get mentioned is that basic aid has been precipitated by declining enrollment (totally out of the board's control), and that it nets our district more money and not less.

This board is trying its best to be fair, impartial, and to look at all information presented in an effort to make the best possible decision for all students. Please become informed voters and vote no on the May 19 recall.

Francine Lettmann

La Grange

Profligate spending

To the editor:

I object to the Tuolumne Utilities District's proposed water rate increases.

A 160 percent increase over a five year period is excessive, punitive and unreasonable. The circumstances outlined in its most recent customer letter are the same stated in the April 25, 2007, letter, except then additional funds from customers were needed to hire more employees and now more is necessary to "fund the cost of loan payments."

It would appear that with the last rate increase of 2007, TUD indeed hired more staff and borrowed more money. Apparently, TUD has been on a spending for assets binge over the past decade. In 2007 alone, the district's assets increased by $4 million. Major purchases were also made in 2006, including 140 acres in Jamestown for $1.1 million, with all of them being proclaimed by staff as "major accomplishments" and "steps forward."

This profligate spending and borrowing has obviously now placed the district in dire financial straits, requiring a bailout with customer funds. TUD has joined the ranks of the other disgraced companies and agencies that have abused the public trust.

My suggestion for a solution is the sale of whatever assets are necessary to keep the agency afloat. The Sierra Pines Golf Course (a 2007 acquisition) is a good place to start, along with the Jamestown 140 acres.

I believe an independent audit is necessary now. This will prove to the public that TUD can indeed be trusted to spend our money wisely.

Randy Meyer



To the editor:

Perhaps the best long term solution for the City of Angels Camp would be to not have a City of Angels Camp. With a population of only 2,700 plus or minus people and very few businesses, can we really afford to continue to be a city? At the rate the city is causing costs to increase for water, sewer and staff salaries, we would be better off once again being unincorporated. As an unincorporated community, we still receive all of the benefits of being a city without the higher cost. As an unincorporated community, the costs are spread out amongst all of the resident of the county thus directly reducing the cost to us, the taxpayers.

Mark Jones

Angels Camp

Help at home

To the editor:

With all the bailouts that the government is allowing large businesses, you would hope they cared about the little people, but it seems not.

Rather then taking more from the people who have a little more, the government is taking from the people who have the very least. I am disabled, and next month my disability check will be over $30 less from here on out. Disabled people have really felt the crunch with medication fees, having wheel-chair funding taken, just to name one. Rather then sending millions abroad, how about helping our own people right here at home?

Donna Grimes