Union Democrat staff

Vote No on Measure C

To the Editor:

When I was asked to sign the ballot argument in opposition to Measure C, extension of the Transient Occupancy Tax (T.O.T.), I realized my doing so would upset some of my friends. I was not eager to sign, but felt duty bound to do so.

My reasons for opposing Measure C go beyond the issues raised in the ballot argument. My opposition stems from my 28 years of service to Tuolumne County as assessor-recorder. From my perspective and experience, Measure C is simply wrong headed, bad tax policy, and disingenuous. Using the emotional issue of saving Railtown and the fairgrounds by adding a new tax to RV Parks, houseboats, and campgrounds is mixing apples and oranges that serve to confuse voters and obfuscate the facts. Extension of the T.O.T. should be judged on its own merits and not whether it will serve as a bailout for a couple of state programs.

Several years ago there was a proposal to institute a business license (tax) for the purpose of funding fire protection services. The proposal failed as it should have. It amounted to exactly the same thing that Measure C purports to do and it used an emotional issue to try and gain support. Even though I support the fairgrounds and Railtown, the T.O.T. extension is not the solution we need to save them. Vote No on Measure C.

David Wynne


Failed Republican policies

To the Editor:

Ray Anderson (regarding his May 1 letter) has a Fox News load of terrible misinformation.

Republican policies designed to run up deficits as phony justification for slashing our government's ability to regulate monopolistic corporations and provide the services that make America a beautiful country caused this country's economy to crash. Fox News and the guys with so much ill gotten loot that they can flood the media with falsehoods so blatant that a thinking open-minded person would gag no doubt helped folks like Ray to forget that this current and brilliant (and certainly no socialist!) president came into office as the Republican depression was descending on us all, including Europe.

Obama has been amazing in his ability to get investments in stimulus of the economy to begin to take effect in spite of the traitorous efforts of the Republican legislators to stymie everything that would be seen as a success for this president. Democracy is about listening to those who see things differently and working out compromise. President Obama has embraced and respected the right and moved to compromise. The right has betrayed American Democracy and turned it into a sick war of no compromise and filthy tricks. Greece, Spain are the worst off right now, you know why? They went the furthest down the conservative path of seeking austerity when government investment was the prescription of economic wisdom.

Bob Wetzel


TUD faces challenges

To the Editor:

I fear the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) is headed towards a financial crisis. Why? Based on my research of their financial statements, TUD's combined water and sewer operations are losing over $9,000 every day.

During the 2010-2011 fiscal year - ended July 31, 2011 - according to TUD's independently audited financials, the water fund operating activities lost $3,683,904 or $9,874 per day. And losses are continuing!

And, last fiscal year $9,448,860 was transferred, interest free, from the sewer fund to the water fund, without any plan for repayment.

TUD owes interest at higher than current market rates, which I think should be re-financed to save over $250,000 annually. But who will loan money to a District that is hemorrhaging cash?

Read the financial statements and minutes of the Committee and Board Meetings, as I have done. My conclusion: TUD has 14,000 water customers. It would take a water rate increase of $16 monthly just to plug the holes, without any repayment of the borrowed $9.4 million and without building needed reserves.

If TUD was a well-run, for-profit business, it would have, years ago, raised rates; cut costs to the bone; and kept spending below revenues - in order to year-after-year build adequate financial reserves to replace aging systems, pipes, pumps and generators. They should have also been an early adopter of electronic payroll, billing and payment systems.

It is unfair to the dedicated past and current employees to jeopardize their future. The benefits package, which is comparable to many other California special districts, is currently approximately 77 percent of direct wages.

And, it is unfair to the rate paying customers to jeopardize their delivery of clean, fresh water and proper disposal of wastewater.

Jim Grinnell


Grinnell recently applied for a vacant TUD board seat. Another candidate was selected.