Union Democrat staff

Congratulations Golden Lakes

To the Editor,

Hats off to Golden Lakes Charter School for securing a new five-year charter agreement with Stanislaus County.

Executive Director Mari Brabbin and her staff have shown an incredible commitment to the educational needs of students in the Don Pedro area.

Throughout the meltdown of the Big Oak Flat-Groveland school board, in spite of the lack of support from the Big Oak Flat-Groveland School District administrators and school board, and in the apparent absence of any support from the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office, the small staff at Golden Lakes under Ms. Brabbin's leadership prevailed in securing a short term charter from the Tuolumne County Board of Education and successfully kept a school campus operating in the Don Pedro area.

Now, through the continued efforts of Golden Lakes, the school is making the escape from a generally unsupportive Tuolumne County Superintendent to a school district in Stanislaus County that appears to be much more interested in making grade school education available to the families of the Don Pedro area.

Those of you Tuolumne County Schools administrators who supported Golden Lakes efforts should be proud of your accomplishments. Those of you who stood in the way, and you know who you are, should be ashamed of yourselves for abandoning the Don Pedro area residents.

Fortunately, there are a few super men and women around here who are more passionate about providing an education to young people than they are about the bottom line.

Andy Aldrich


Thanks for the help

To the Editor,

The third annual Sierra Green Days at Ironstone was a high quality event! Thank you to all who participated as Green Exhibitors, local vendors, attendees, presenters in a conference level education program and in the special celebrations - Drum Circle and World Spirit Celebration. This range of education and experience is what makes this event unique and so relevant to local self-reliance and local business.

We have already heard many success stories: two families signed up to be foster parents, three puppies found homes, many vendors reported valuable business connections and referrals, and food vendors found new catering opportunities.

A sense of community filled the air and spirits were extremely positive, despite the unusual heat. The delicious dinner got rave reviews and guest speaker, Pamm Larry, initiator of Prop 37 on 'GMO Labeling: The Right to Know,' inspired the room with her story of one person deciding to make a difference.

SGD awards for economy, energy and ecology were presented by County Supervisor Steve Wilensky to Timothy and Emily Dondero, of Sierra Business Council, Tom Danielson, of Danielson Construction and Energy Management and George Wendt, of OARS with wonderfully entertaining background stories.

Thank you to our supportive sponsors: CHI (Community Health Inspiration) Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital, MTSJ Healthcare District, Sierra Business Council, PG&E, Hardy Custom Builders, and in-kind sponsors Sierra Hills Natural Foods, House on Main and Ironstone Vineyards. You made it happen!

Johanna Atman


Sierra Green Days 2012

Vote for new blood on the TUD board

To the Editor,

After serving on the Tuolumne Utilities District board for 11 years (I resigned in protest this year), one thing has become clear to me: It is much easier for board members to raise water and sewer rates in order to correct budget shortfalls than it is to make painful cuts in staffing, salaries and benefits.

Since wages and benefits make up the lion's share of overhead at TUD and have ballooned to unsustainable levels, they must be reduced if we are to avoid continued punishing rate hikes in these essential services.

How much have wages and benefits at TUD ballooned? The average TUD employee costs the ratepayers $131,000 per year in wages and benefits.

Obviously there is room for bringing this figure down.

While city, county, and state employees have endured painful cuts during the recession, TUD incumbents have not supported any pay, benefit, or staffing reductions for existing TUD employees.

The sum total of the sacrifice asked of TUD employees throughout the great recession amounts to not taking a cost-of-living raise for one year.

I am writing this to urge you to vote for new blood at TUD. The three incumbents Behee, Ringen and Dahlen running for reelection do not deserve your vote.

We need strong, passionate voices on the TUD board to speak out on behalf of the ratepayers. People who will insist that significant belt-tightening occur at TUD before any further increases in water and sewer rates.

I am urging you to cast your votes for Mike Sarno, Dave Evans, Kent Johnson and John Maciel, who I believe are the clearest and strongest voices for the ratepayer.

Ralph Retherford


Personal responsibility

To the Editor,

Letters urging the re-election of Obama seem to run the same theme; blame Bush and ignore the past four years. Many complained when the 2006 deficit was $280 billion and the national debt hit $5 trillion, which resulted in the Democrats gaining control of the U.S. Senate and House in November 2006.

I have found that most people I have encountered live their lives with beliefs formed by their suppositions without any real research or study.

But I can only handle just so much rhetorical speech.

Pull up the internet and the charts show that from 2000 through 2006 the deficits and the national debt were climbing, but at a 45 degree angle; but since the beginning of 2007 the rate of increase goes almost straight up and in the past four years does go straight up, much like a NASA rocket.

We have had trillion dollar plus deficits yearly the past four years and the debt is over $16 trillion!

With our credit rating downgraded for the first time in our history we can no longer borrow; we shouldn't print anymore money; so all we can do is to cut the federal budget below the income every year until solvency.

Since the military is being cut, that only leaves cuts to "entitlement" programs. The Tea Party will sweep the Senate as it did the House in 2010, and will do what is obvious.

Will we look like Europe with riots in the streets?

The resulting resentment will blame "Republicans" and not the bankers as happened in 1932 (sound familiar?), which triggered eighty years of exponential growth of feeding at the public trough.

Barry F. Wilson