Homeowners need insurance help

To the Editor:

Who is looking out for the homeowner? Many home homeowners in our county have had their homeowners insurance cancelled, many with no claims for many years.

As an alternative we have California Fair offering fire insurance only (no liability) at three to four times previous rates. It hurts every homeowner.

What are our local and state representatives doing? Lip service at best. It is time for them to act as our representative and step up and do something about this insurance rip off. Call, write and ask these representatives to start representing their voters.

John Quartarolo


Ideas for senior projects

To the Editor:

High school seniors are starting their final year. I think some high schools still require or suggest senior projects. Some action or cause taken on by a graduating senior.

Sometimes the deadline for submitting the planned project creeps up and it’s, “Oh! What do I do?”

Let me offer some suggestions:

Write a paper for your county or local historical group, on the water troughs around Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. There are a few of them still surviving. They were for the early day horse and mule teams. But they’re still used for thirsty hot radiators.

I just read about the 1000 Hands project in Lake County, volunteers clearing brush for fire protection. I see places in our counties that make me wonder how folks living there sleep at night during fire season.

Sonora High School recently saw their ag ranch all but disappear. Here is an opportunity to come up with ways to ensure it survives and others efforts to save it were not in vain. Other schools are getting grants to improve and expand their ag programs. Can you make the ranch pay? Ag tourism, a farmers market, an outdoor ag history museum, host events.

There are lots of worthwhile projects. Just remember, you do a good job and you can put your name on it.

Jon Rodgers


Old wine in a new bottle?

To the Editor:

In the recently published article by Alex MacLean of the Union Democrat (Economic development director details first month on the job, future), I got a feeling of déjà vu.

One of the major goals of TCEDA was the tracking of the number of daily phone calls. That’s all that was accomplished over 10 years. As it was then and is now, making phone calls is not a performance measure. It is what most workers do daily.

The measure should be what businesses were created or the number of jobs retained as a result of those calls. Or how many individuals selling their homes actually invested their profits through the Opportunity Zone program. Or how many businesses that were contacted actually moved into the empty retail stores.

It seemed to me that Mr. Przybyla used the word “hope” too many times in the article to explain the main thrust of his economic development strategy.

Many of the ideas presented have either already been tried by previous governmental agencies or have failed under TCEDA’s lack of accomplishments. These ideas are nothing more than putting “old wine in new bottles,” in my opinion.

I believe that the county established this new Economic Development agency, despite facing a major budget shortfall and possible lay off of county employees, as a political symbol of retaliation against those who opposed and embarrassed both the Board of Supervisors and TCEDA supporters. A kind of “in your face” before deciding not to run again for the Board. Luckily for us, two have now dropped out not wanting to face voter anger. We are now waiting for the final shoe to drop for Supervisor Brennan.

Ken Perkins


Budget frustration

To the Editor:

I need to share my frustration. Tuolumne County is again in desperate budget shape. I went through similar frustration with the budgets in the early 1990s.

The source of my frustration is not our county. Administration does the best it can with the monies available. However, the State of California continues to pass laws that negatively impact the counties.

In the mid-90s, the state raised the level of state employee retirements. In order to compete in the search for qualified employees, the counties were forced to raise salaries and retirement benefits.

Then, when the state had a problem meeting retirement obligations, they increased the payment demands on the counties. When the state had an over-population in the state prisons, they passed AB90 which shifted prisoners from the state to the counties and greatly increased probation responsibilities. Inmates in county jails can now be held up to five years instead of one.

Next we had Prop 57, which downgraded crimes from prisons to jails. Of course, the state reimbursements have never come close to handling the real costs.

Next we look at the state spending: $98 million for health care for illegals, schooling for children that never should be in our state in the first place, cost for providing sanctuary of illegals and at a time California citizens are living in tents and less.

Let’s not forget the good old train to nowhere or the pipelines to carry water from a northern state that has not been able to build new water impoundments. Higher gas and registration taxes to cover the roads that the state let deteriorate.

The state “administrators” have lost sight of their responsibilities. But most of all, this shift of responsibilities requires counties to cut libraries, recreation services law enforcement and other local services.

Richard Nutting


The soul of America

To the Editor:

Adolf Hitler rescued Germany after WW I. Germans’ self-esteem had been destroyed. Hitler told them, “Germans were superior.” “Jews were to blame.” “Jews were horrible, filthy vermin who had infested Germany.” Hitler confiscated their homes and their property. With their money, he put Germans back to work and built his war machine.

Only a small minority of Germans supported Hitler. By the time most Germans understood the threat, it was too late. Hitler had a vice grip on Germany. People deeply feared him, his brown shirts, and his Gestapo.

The fear and hate persisted until Germany lost WW II.

Like Germans, do we embrace fear and hate, dehumanize people, and blame them for our problems? Or, do we fix things?

Immigrants from Mexico and Central America are not criminals and rapists. They are not filthy vermin, who are infesting our country.

They are hard-working, family-oriented people, who mostly take jobs that no one else wants. El Paso is predominantly Latinos and among the safest cities in America.

Companies love hiring illegal immigrants. Illegal workers get low wages, no benefits, and are treated like slaves. These companies are breaking the law. By offering illegal jobs, they encourage illegal immigration. Without jobs, no one would come here.

Let’s stop illegal immigration and fix our system. First, companies must verify employees against databases that attach official photos to Social Security numbers. Companies that hire illegal workers are hurting all workers. They must face stiff fines and jail time.

Second, we have 11 million illegal immigrants, who have lived here for over a decade. Their lives and families are here. Let’s require military or public service — two years for a green card, four years for citizenship.

Do we fix things? Or, do we become a country of fear and hate?

Marvin Keshner


Tax the only answer

To the Editor:

All the county officials are scratching their heads. Everybody needs more money. Funding to fix roads, maintain sheriff’s staffing, fight wildfires, replace old fire engines, keep libraries open, pay for this service, pay for that service.

Other than trimming waste and fat why is there a discussion centered on reducing services? Instead, create a budget that meets the needs of the citizens of the county. Budget the various departments to meet these needs.

Then come up with a plan to match income to budget. Do not budget to match income. Then do what is necessary to provide that income.

Solutions were discussed last March at a special meeting of county officials at the Black Oak Casino. To maintain or improve services all solutions centered around the word taxes. We have one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state because our county portion is so low (The state portion is uniform throughout the state.)

Mention taxes and elected public officials always cringe. Raising taxes is not good for reelection. It requires up to a two-thirds majority vote. But it also calls for local leader support. Local citizens say they are already paying too much in taxes. Well how do you figure that?

If your county portion of taxes is not sufficient to pay for the required services and upgrades then you are not paying enough in taxes. The choices are pay more tax and get county roads fixed or pay more to get your car fixed and tires replaced. Pay more tax for needed sheriff’s deputies or suffer more from burglary and other crimes. Pay more tax for wildfire prevention or pay more for home fire insurance.

Ed Fernandez


Thanks, first responders

To the Editor:

I am writing to commend our local law enforcement and first responders for all that they do, and endure. We know their role to cite violators, arrest criminals, react to emergencies, respond to fires, protect citizens, and much more.

The presence of law enforcement, fire agencies, ambulance, tow truck handlers, road crews, neighborhood watch actives, so on, is well regarded. Give these folks a wave or handshake. You are not there when they must handle the wrecks, the carnage, charred remains, theft, support of survivors and victims, the clean-up when an unfortunate incident occurs.

Your existence continues. They have the aftermath of trauma: visual emotional and physical aspects of the happening. So many feel entitled to “get to the front of lines, who cares, in a hurry, that won’t be missed, someone will pick up my trash”.

Take time to proceed with caution, honor who are genuine, keep areas pleasant, enjoy your freedom. Do not expect others to clean up your irresponsibility. Respect, contribute, preserve.

Signed: a business and land owner, law abiding citizen, and long-standing proud citizen of this Country (who keeps a watchful eye on infractors).

Joanie Gisler

Big Oak Flat/Groveland

When the Trump era ends

To the Editor:

When the Era Trump comes to an end, and it will, hopefully sooner rather than later, my nearly perfect 2020 foresight allows me to predict, with a high degree of certainty, a flood of excuses from his former supporters.

Hhere a few examples of what we should expect.

I believed him when he said great times were around the corner but I realized the truth too late;

Not all he said or did was bad. Our country, our nation, superior to any other, is under attack by enemies, and we must not be disloyal;

I had to support him because everybody around me did. My family pushed me, and I was in fear of being ostracized and even lose my job;

I’m not a bad guy. I secretly kept friends among his opponents who can vouch for me. Even as the government’s bloodhounds were rounding up people (many of whom I knew personally), I protected several individuals and families from incarceration and extinction.

How do I know this? I grew up in post-Hitler Germany. These were the favorite excuses of former Nazis.

That’s when I learned about the tricks of the trade of autocrats. They split the people into “us” versus “them” and demand unquestioning loyalty to the Leader (“Führer”) and denounce anyone who dares opposing them as an enemy of the people.

Highly recommended reading: “Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies.” Just google “Burt Neuborne Trump Hitler”, there are many sources. All I can say is “bone chilling”.

Decades ago an Irish friend asked me if Nazism could occur again. I thought long and hard and responded, yes it could, anywhere and probably not in Germany.

Now it appears to be happening again, right here in America.

Klaus Kraemer


What is wrong with this picture?

To the Editor:

Wildfires in California are getting larger and more frequent. We receive news to be prepared from CalFire, Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD), and PG&E. CalFire has been holding public meetings to tell us how to remove vegetation from around our houses, how to be prepared by having a “go bag” with important documents and provisions, and knowing our evacuation routes.

PG&E is telling us that if conditions get really bad, they will shut off power to whole areas as a proactive action. TUD included a flyer in the last bill explaining all the treated water sources they have available. But they all depend on power to operate them.

Tuolumne County has contracted with CalFire to provide the county’s fire protection. CalFire prefers to fill their engines and water tenders from fire hydrants. There are not fire hydrants everywhere in the county.

TUD has an open ditch system that runs without power. Water drafting points or storage tanks can be developed at ditches, creeks, lakes, and/or ponds. But, TUD is not in the business to develop firefighting water sources. Neither is CalFire, or the County, it seems. What is wrong with this picture?

CalFire’s response is that they would rather replace 12 aging engines, each costing approximately$300,000+. PG&E is telling us that there might not be power to fill those engines.

No agency wants to develop alternate water drafting or storage points, yet all three agencies are telling us to prepare for wildfires. Developing alternate water sources is also a part of fire preparedness.

Isn’t there an adult in the room to tell these agencies to get over protecting their turf and put aside their personality differences, and get to work preparing for the larger and more frequent fires ahead?

Thad Waterbury