Union Democrat staff

Helping hand in Mother Lode

To the Editor:

Last year on Sept. 17, we were coming down from Kennedy Meadows because my husband was very sick. On the way to your hospital we got lost and had to stop by a house. The two people there helped us by showing us where the hospital was. A block from the hospital my husband had a heart attack. People stopped by to help him and called 911. To everyone we thank you so much. To Mr. And Mrs. Lot we will never forget you. To me and my daughter you were angels on Earth, we can never express our gratitude for all you did for us on the hardest day of our lives. We hope you will see this. We lost your phone number, so that is what has taken a little longer to thank you. Thank you so much.

Debbie Lewis

San Lorenzo

TUD Rate Increases

To the Editor:

In the Jan. 5 story by Ryan Campbell titled "Ringen Appointed to TUD Board" I was quoted as saying "TUD was created to serve the public, and I get the impression at this point it serves the employees a little bit better than it serves the public." That statement alone, without the context within which it was made, is meaningless. What was being discussed at the time was the wage and benefits paid to TUD's 76 employees: which amounts to $5.6 million and $4.3 million, respectively. The total of those two numbers, $9.9 million when divided into a mean average, equals $133,000 per employee. At the time my comment was made, I had been asked by Dr. Retherford if I thought TUD spent too much or charged too little.

There is more to the issue here than just the wages and benefits paid to TUD employees. Recently, there was an attempt by the TUD General Manager to pass a rather hefty rate increase on the citizens of Tuolumne County. That rate increase was needed, as the story went, to finance capital improvements that were being mandated by the State of California, and since there was no fat to cut from the budget, all the money had to come from the proposed rate hike. I think most of us live on budgets with a lot less fat than the very comfortable one TUD is operating on.

It would be easy to blame this all on the TUD board or General Manager. The truth is, to paraphrase what Barbara Balen said during the meeting, "most of the time, during meetings, this room is empty except for the Board members." When an organization can access our wallet and we aren't paying attention, this is what we deserve. Let's pay attention.

Jon W. Handrock