Union Democrat staff

Change needed

To the editor:

If Columbia is to remain a living town it is going to have to change. The state is going to have to change the way it sees Columbia. If it is to be a snapshot in time (circa 1860), the types of businesses that a person could make a living at are very limited because there is no market in today's world for the types of things that were sold in 1860.

The state would have to either hire actors or depend on volunteers to pretend to be merchants and customers or allow people to open shops selling goods for which there is a market. It could be artists or craftspeople.

The state is too rigid in its view of what the town should look like. This, along with the mind-numbing layers of government red tape, outrageous demands, and the speed that which they do things (which would rival a tectonic plate), create an environment that is not conductive to attracting new merchants.

Richard Shears


Forests and religion

To the editor:

Regards Gilbert Fryer's June 9 letter.

Gil, we seem to be of differing thoughts on the forest and God. You are concerned that God's people are not on the side of "forest over utilization" (my words). In this region, God's people (with tribal names as Mandan, Me-Wuk, Mono, Piute, and Chukchansi) were in charge of these forests for millenniums. They were able to keep the forest floor cleared for their easy access and to reduce the risk of wildland fires eliminating the forest canopy and their livelihood.

When the U.S. government took charge of the forests, private and corporate persons began hauling the tree canopy away with no regard for the forest floor, nor the people who had been the managers.

The claim that government regulations keep Red Emmerson - CEO of SPI and, per Forbes magazine, the 573rd richest man in the world - from cutting enough of local forests is to deny the recent satellite and aerial photography of our region. These photos clearly show that most of the mature trees for harvest have been harvested by SPI clear cuts. The photos were on display recently at Utica Park in Angels Camp.

We need to remember that the religious communities of the Middle East cut the much sought after "Cedars of Lebanon" for temples and other houses of worship. They cut until all the trees were gone and the forest extinct.

I suggest that the religious community not fall in behind SPI, rather that they back responsible management as was the norm in the Sierra for thousands of years. To many of us, the forest should not look like Death Valley.

Rev. Lloyd Schneider


Out of touch

To the editor:

In these economic times, we are seeing continuing job losses. We are seeing public agencies - counties, cities and towns - cut back as revenue drops and make for a downturn in revenue.

Public employees have in some cases taken cuts in salary, reduced hours and/or been laid off. In this economy, we see the value of 401(k)s depressed, real estate in decline; commodity prices (oil, natural gas, etc.) continue to come down.

This is pervasive in our economy. Except for the Twain Harte Community Services District. The district is approaching the world as if there is an endless supply of revenue and that ratepayers will accept any rate increases in water, passively.

The district raised water rates to pad its reserves and help support employee benefits, expand some conservation efforts and invest in tools to use the current water supplies. What planet do the district managers live on? Where is the independent thinking of the board?

The district philosophy is to "stick it" to ratepayers. We already have obscene water rates and this just makes them worse. During the past seven years, the increases equal over 140 percent (or an average of about 20 percent a year).

District directors and managers are not living in the real world. They are isolated, insulated and out of touch with the current economic climate. Their solutions involve a view that water rates are inelastic and THCSD ratepayers can afford to pay anything.

No one in any business is raising prices. Ratepayers should be on high alert and both witness this behavior and most importantly, never forget it.

Tom O'Gorman

Twain Harte

Flagger's thanks

To the editor:

This letter is to thank all the commuters and residents who live on and off Soulsbyville Road. I work for Tuolumne County Public Works and I am one of the flaggers on the overlay project on Soulsbyville Road.

Everyone that I have stopped has been so understanding and patient. Everyone continues to drive through our work zone with smiles and waves regardless.

Thanks again for making my job a lot nicer and giving all of us on Soulsbyville Road a break.

George Reed and all the truckers, you guys are awesome too. Nice job.

Ann Wever

Twain Harte