Union Democrat staff

We need more from our elected officials

To the Editor:

The other day, I was invited to hear Sheriff Mele speak at a SIRs luncheon. I was impressed by his rationale and passion concerning our need for a new jail. Also of interest, he stated Craig Pedro and he recently took a trip to Sacramento to plead for money.

However, were these two the most credible we have to plead our case? They are closely associated with those who led the fight to shoot down the legislation which was to provide funding for rural jails - AB 900. Here are a couple of quotes from one of their anti tax groups.

"Just one lawmaker. That is all it would have taken to kill the bill (AB 900) in the Senate."

"Special thanks for Senators Cogdill, etc. … who voted against AB 900. Senator McClintock provided especially vocal opposition…"

However, this was not solely about taxes, it was about their animosity for Labor Unions and the working families Labor represents. However, that is a story for another time.

Building a jail is a costly capital improvement project. Community involvement from the outset makes the completion of these projects all the more possible. So it's wise to first conduct a poll asking would you support a tax increase to fund a new jail? If the answer is an overwhelming no - then we probably have no need to go any further. Building and staffing a facility like this, without partial funding by the local people, e.g. Measure J in Calaveras County, is rare.

We need a new jail. We need our elected leaders in Sacramento (Berryhill and Bigelow) to go to work for us and see how much the State can give us, if anything. Then put together a group to hammer out local bond funding.

Domenic Torchia


Don't shy away from change for the better

To the Editor:

There is much talk in the air recently regarding the unification/unionization of Tuolumne County schools. An everyday, familiar analogy may help clarify the issues.

Consider our county school system the family car, a '55 Chevy. It has been a reliable vehicle, never stranding us, and the object of many fond, nostalgic memories. We saw our family grow up in the car. But because of its age and different era, its operating costs have grown to the point that we don't get the use out of it that we need to. We look around the neighborhood and see that most of our neighbors have traded in their old "clunkers" for more modern efficient models.

Some in the family, reluctant to let go of the nostalgia the old car embodies, have recommended styling changes that will make the old car more aerodynamic, hence more fuel efficient. This suggestion causes huge conflict over how the car will look after modification, but does nothing to deal with the real issue, which is the old car's obsolescence.

I hope the Sonora Area Foundation will see the wisdom of their investment in a comprehensive study. I am sure that our community will be strongly supportive of this gesture and the subsequent improvements to the Tuolumne County schools that will come from focusing our funds on education rather than administration.

David Munson