Bravos/Barbs: What’s good, bad and ugly

Written by Chris Bateman, The Union Democrat January 16, 2009 11:08 am

It’s time again for Bravos & Barbs, The Union Democrat’s occasional listing of the good, bad and, at times, ugly in our communities.

Our apologies to the many whose good works we failed to note. And to any misanthropes who escaped our notice, be careful — because you may not get lucky twice.

Bravos:

• To the Tuolumne Utilities District, which dropped the rates it charges Curtis Creek Ranch customers after getting a low bid on system improvements and securing a state construction loan for a lesser rate than anticipated. “Isn’t it glorious?” asked a TUD engineer of the $12.52 rate cut given former customers of the failing Matt Dillon Water Co. It is.

• To Tuolumne County, for making good on its promise to rebuild and repair a retaining wall that collapsed at Mill Villa Estates in the heavy storms of 2006. Parsons Brothers Rock Walls of Roseville built the new barrier for $297,000, and it reportedly survived the season’s first storm with flying colors.

• To the Calaveras County Bomb Squad, which over the past 15 years has disarmed dozens of explosive devices — ranging from homemade pipe bombs to World War I artillery rounds — in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Their efforts — most recently neutralizing a live grenade in Sonora — has likely saved many lives.

• To Sonora High grad and current New York Yankee Phil Coke, for his outstanding late-season pitching performance in the Major Leagues and for thus earning The Union Democrat’s Sports Figure of the Year award.

• To the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, for extending TUD a $100,000 grant to help rehabilitate the silt-clogged, weed-choked, occasionally pollution-tainted Phoenix Lake, a onetime foothill gem that’s turned into a dangerous eyesore.

 Barbs:

• To the California Legislature, whose failure to adopt a balanced budget has rendered state bonds that fund Sierra Nevada Conservancy projects unsalable and has thus put the Phoenix Lake job and many other conservation projects in jeopardy.

• To Calaveras County Supervisor Tom Tryon, who attempted to block the election of 2008 Vice Chairman Russ Thomas to this year’s top job by insisting “there is no right to ascendancy,” then grousing that the past two years had been “a living hell of what I consider to be less than honorable leadership.” Tryon nominated colleague Merita Callaway for the chair, but she graciously declined and supported Thomas — who was in line for the job under the board’s traditional rotation and won it on a 4-1 vote.

As he is a seven-term board incumbent, one would think Tryon would have learned some measure of diplomacy by now.

• To the many, many sledding and partying patrons of Little Sweden, whose blatant disregard of parking and traffic laws each weekend put both themselves and drivers passing through the four-lane section of Highway 108 above Long Barn at risk for injury or even death. Although patrolling CHP officers ticket violators, the sheer number of this year’s crowd and its apparently contagious lack of common sense are overwhelming.