Union Democrat staff

The last day to submit letters relating to the June 3 primary will be Wednesday, May 28.

Still working to get unification on ballot

To the Editor:

The effort to get school unification on a Tuolumne County ballot is now in its 18th month.

Why is it taking so long? For many reasons, but the main one is that the bar has been set so high that it is an improbable goal for any group or community to attain.

Under far less severe requirements than we now face, there were other attempts. But even then, the cards were stacked against us ever getting to vote on unification - none have made a ballot.

There have been many studies and reports; hundreds of articles and supportive letters; four polls with support ranging from 66 percent to 100 percent in favor of unification. Yet, we continue to waste millions of precious education dollars on jobs (with very generous benefits) that are obsolete.

An excerpt from one of those studies: "We the Grand Jury or other bodies can make recommendations regarding consolidation repeatedly but nothing will happen until a grassroots effort to make it happen. The general voting public must be informed and decide that a change is needed and then act upon that informed decision. After all, the ability to offer our children the best educational opportunities should be the ultimate goal." - Tuolumne County Grand Jury Final Report 1998 - 1999

Folks, if there was a reason to not consolidate/unify, and those who put these barriers between you and a ballot could demonstrate that to you - they would have put it on the 2014 ballot. But they cannot - the performance at our schools continues to deteriorate.

We are that "grass roots effort." Do your small part, stop at one of the tables located in many of our shopping areas and sign a petition. You will then have two years to listen to debate and then cast your vote.

Domenic Torchia


Dedicated to seeking knowledge

To the Editor:

Many have asked me how I morphed from a conservative Republican into a liberal Democrat, from a bible-thumping believer to a critical thinker and non-believer. Blame education not me. Blame the dedication to learning and seeking knowledge. I am a lifelong truth seeker with a desire to help people and fight on behalf of economic and social justice.

I understand radical thinking for I attended meetings of the ultra-right John Birch Society when I was a teenager. It's founder, Robert Welch, wrote a lengthy book, claiming President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist. Still, I registered as a Democrat when I was 18. I soon became fed up with the antics of the antiwar movement, especially their foul treatment of our Vietnam War veterans. I became a Republican in 1972 when I thought the Democratic Party had gone too far to the left.

During this time I became a conservative born-again Christian, then converted to Catholicism in 1980. Despite my piety, I was a disaffected, uneducated white man who blamed my plight on minorities, feminists and gays. I had even shaved my head and became an anti-semitic skinhead for a while.

My evolution into an educated man and a free thinker began when I attended Columbia College to get my GED. I became enthralled with the joy of learning and took college classes for two more years before transferring to a small liberal arts Catholic college in Montana to complete my college education and become a Catholic priest. I eventually became a newspaper reporter, got married, became a father, and worked for The Union Democrat until an auto accident left me paralyzed from the waist down 14 years ago. I left the Republican Party in 1999 after it veered too far to the right.

Robert Dorroh


In support of

Jim Garaventa

To the Editor:

Jim Garaventa has been "walking the walk" in preparation to be a knowledgeable candidate for Sonora City Council - nine years on City of Sonora Parking and Traffic Commission, 12 years on the Tuolumne County Transportation as a Council Citizen Advisory Member, and six years on the Tuolumne County Planning Commission. Jim was selected to be on the Vision Sonora Advisory Committee and Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Planning Committee. Jim was co-chair of Citizens for a Safer Sonora (Measure I).

A fourth-generation resident of Sonora, Jim has a depth of background including serving as president on the Cable 8 Public Access Board, past-president of the Tuolumne County Historical Society, and president of Eureka Engine Co. No. 1 (Sonora's Volunteer Fire Department). In fact, going back to Jim's grandfather, a Garaventa has served in the Eureka Engine Co. No. 1 for the past 103 years.

Jim is a proponent of keeping our rural and historical character, while providing for growth and state-of-the-art infrastructure. He brings fresh ideas and practices to city government. He believes in the re-vitalization of downtown and curbing speeders on residential streets. I believe Jim Garaventa deserves your support. He has a proven track record of involvement and will work hard for the residents of Sonora, not for any political party or special interest groups.

Joseph Sparagna