Union Democrat staff

Rebellion then and now

To the Editor:

A question comes to mind as I review the original meaning of the attributes of our American Flag. At first glance regarding the 13 stripes; they were to represent the 13 colonies that rebelled against the British Monarchy. This in essence was an egregious attitude toward a single Monarch rule. Let's be clear now, I'm a Vietnam era vet, which has always given exceeding respect to our nation's flag. But I wonder now if we haven't returned to the original estate of which our fore-fathers fought against?

Doesn't our government assume power over most all decisions which affect our lives? Doesn't it seem staggering that we have less and less say when it comes to bills and legislatures that are passed (personal weapons carrying, homosexual history in schools, pension plans, prisoner swaps, closing of state parks), without our vote and/or voice? I imagine that most Americans that would consider this line of thought could say we are in about the same position as our forefathers were, in respect to protesting the amount of power and assets that belong to a monarch-like authority. Is there really any serious question as to what the latest "Occupy" movement is all about?

Does our flag still wave for the land of the Free? I respect and salute my nation's flag because I'm old-school. But, I can't help wondering if we're giving up our individual and corporate rights as members of this righteous union. As we all set back and allow this country's leaders to continue the path of conquerors. Yes, Conquerors. Doesn't sound too appetizing does it? That's exactly what's happening to us and our countrymen. What to do?

Wally George


TUD ratepayers protest

To the Editor:

TUD ratepayers are facing base rate monthly charges and consumption rate charges increases from 23.4 to 79.5 percent on Jan. 1.

Budget FY2012 – Labor and Benefits is the primary driver of expense (71 percent - $9.9 million, 85 employees = $116,702 average per employee). Fringe Benefit cost is 78 percent of labor cost, a level that would not be sustainable in the for-profit business world. In addition, costs within these categories include unfunded pension liability of $280,000 annually for 10 years and $1 million annually toward retirees' medical insurance.

The TUD Water Rate Plan seeks to increase the base rate 54.36 percent in the first year. Ironically, the base rate increase is primarily due to ratepayers attaining water conservation goals with even more 'reserve' requirements projected assuming that even higher water conservation goals will be attained ($500,000 set aside - 2012 through 2015). Ratepayers penalized for conservation?

Another somewhat curious projected cost line is "Implementation Study Cost" - in 2010, no cost; 2011 $1.1 million; $1 million annually 2012 through 2015.

TUD states: reducing budget expense not possible. Spending an average of $116,702 per employee annually is a good place to start, others options: implementing employee furlough days, switching from a defined benefit retirement plan to a 401K, having employees contribute a higher percentage to health-care premium, reducing the defined benefit pension formula from 2.7 percent at 55 to the formula that is offered by Tuolumne County – 2 percent at 55, along with increasing the defined pension age formula beyond 55.

I applaud TUD Director Retherford's efforts on behalf of ratepayers. More needs to be done, given TUD President Behee's spending obsession.

Ratepayers: Protest by Dec. 7.

Ray Anderson