Bravos and Barbs: The latest winners and losers

By Union Democrat staff March 03, 2009 10:28 am

It’s again time for Bravos and Barbs, The Union Democrat’s at times monthly, admittedly incomplete compendium of the good, the bad and, occasionally, the ugly in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

Without further ado, this edition’s winners and losers:

• For the Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District board, for looking into splitting off Don Pedro from the rest of the district. “It might be the first thing everyone agrees on,” said Superintendent Mari Brabbin, who is at the epicenter of a recall and turf war between the Groveland and Don Pedro portions of the district.

In tight economic times, when consolidation often brings savings, creating a new district might not seem wise. But this particular district’s wounds are so deep and the potential classroom consequences are so dire that an amicable divorce might be the only practical solution.

• For Sonora High School student Adria Moss, whose senior project “Fill the Boot” campaign on Feb. 7 brought in more than $5,100 for the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento, which treats burn victims and supports burn prevention education.

• For Union Congregational Church volunteers, who each Wednesday serve up free lunches for all comers on Angels Camp’s Booster Way. Sierra HOPE provides delivery and other help, and the Utica Power Authority lends its office space for the meal. Just ask any of the grateful diners — this is an idea whose time has come.

• For the California Legislature, whose finally passed budget includes a long-sought tax credit for movies filmed in the state, effective in 2011. Tuolumne County Film Commissioner Jerry Day and State Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, deserve particular credit for championing this measure, which might help lure Hollywood back to the Mother Lode.

• For organizers of the first Valley Springs Jazz Festival, a gathering of star-studded big bands scheduled for April 25. The festival will not only bring throngs of jazz buffs to Calaveras County, but proceeds will benefit Bret Harte and Calaveras high school music programs, the Calaveras Arts Council and the Valley Springs Boosters.

• Although barbs have been previously fired due to the protracted project’s $13 million pricetag, Tuolumne County deserves kudos for at long last successfully sealing up the Jamestown landfill.

• Although we may want to send them barbs afterwards, for now we’ll give Calaveras County Supervisors Russ Thomas and Gary Tofanelli nothing but bravos for having the guts to get in costume, step to the mike and impersonate Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson belting out “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” at a Valley Springs Friends of the Library fundraiser Friday.

• To the Big Oak Flat-Groveland school board, for giving a three-year contract extension to District Superintendent Mari Brabbin amid a bitter and contentious recall campaign that could cost her and all five trustees their jobs in May. Although law requires action on the contract by May 15 — four days before the recall election — a far more modest extension would have been in order. Granting Brabbin a three-year renewal was, in effect, telling voters that trustees don’t care what happens at the polls.

• To the State Senate Republicans who shamelessly and maliciously removed conservative Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, from his post of Senate minority leader. Cogdill incurred the wrath of his colleagues by supporting the budget compromise — thus being a voice of moderation and common sense during the recent budget battle in Sacramento. Californians need and want pragmatists and problem-solvers in state government — not narrow-minded ideologues.