Government overreach

To the Editor:

One surefire way to increase California's bureaucracy is to pass a new law, justified by its need or not, just let the legislature pass one. Case in point is the latest news from Sacramento that automatic garage door openers shall have a battery back-up in case of utility power failure [Senate bill 969 chapter 621; Section 19892 (a,b,c) addition to Health and Safety Code].

Apparently some of those folk in Sacramento have no idea what that handle on a string, dangling over the hood or trunk of a car is for.

The next bill is probably a law mandating that the string or rope has to be replaced with one that will not fray or break and to include monthly testing with a required log, when and by whom it was tested.

It also could be expected that an annual notarized copy of such log shall be submitted to the state in order for those new state employees to have something to do. Does "gone amok" fit this government action. What does one do when the battery fails?

In case of a side hinged garage door, it probably will be mandated, that one has to hang a hammer next to the garage door, inside and outside, in case one can not find the key to the lock.

None other than our State Sen. Borgeas co-authored this bill.

Peter Jelito


Fire Insurance

To the Editor:

Property damage in Paradise was roughly $4 billion. Spread over 10 million California homes, apartments and businesses, this is $400 each. But, if concentrated in forested communities, this becomes $4,000 each.

If we expect $4 billion in wildfire damage every year, then each of us must pay an additional $4,000 a year for home fire insurance.

What’s wrong with this picture? Everything!

Property damage from wildfires is not limited to forested communities. The most destructive fires have been in Santa Rosa, Oakland-Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Malibu, and San Diego. Homes within 10 miles of a wildfire can catch cinders and burn.

Almost every home in California is at risk. Therefore, the insurance risk should be spread almost equally throughout California.

Insurance companies are panicked. They have no way to accurately estimate the risk of wildfire damage and appropriately set rates. Instead, they cancel insurance, set high rates, and demand extreme fire mitigation, like no vegetation for 100 feet.

How do we protect our homes?

We have drier trees, brush, and grasses, plus longer fire seasons. We must thin our forests and build a network of fuel breaks. We need more resources to hit wildfires hard, before they become big.

Defensible space was designed for ground fires. We have some data from Paradise for wind-driven fires. See: Washington Post, Nov 30, 2018 by Kaplan and Sellers. We need a new defensible space standard to protect us from both.

Companies selling fire insurance in California must comply with:

· Affordable insurance: spread the costs throughout the state

· Defensible space: meet the requirement and you get insurance

· Due process: 1 year to implement defensible space

Our governor and insurance commissioner must act. This is a California crisis, not a Foothill problem.

Marvin Keshner


Newspaper followed the leads

To the Editor:

According to the new owner of the Union Democrat (UD), Steven Malkowich, "the newspaper needs to reflect the community. We can’t be the ones to decide what’s important to the community. The community needs to tell us.”

Yes, the paper needs to investigate. Feedback is important. But good reporters dig into what is happening, day-by-day, and letting the editor decide if it is newsworthy.

That is what happened with TCEDA. As a result to a dozens letters to the editor, Alex MacLean began to ask questions. When the Grand Jury struck with their investigation, the UD went into high gear even against harsh blow back from the Board of Supervisors and other community citizens. The current editor, Lyn Riddle, did not blink. Someone had to decide if this behind the scene story was important to the community. Turns out, these events created some of the best journalistic reporting in our county’s history, IMO.

All good news reporters and their editors know the ropes. They listen. They follow the leads. Sometimes the community has no idea what is happening behind closed doors where community and business leaders are making decisions.

We want the truth. We want transparency from our government. We want our newspaper to seek both and help us become better citizens. That is what the UD has always been about. We expect nothing less than this “excellence in news reporting.”

Ken Perkins


Trump is losing it

To the Editor:

The Lyin King wants to "buy" Greenland, a semi-autonomous territory of Denmark. The leaders of Greenland and Denmark label this absurd and hope it was a joke. Trump, of course, takes umbrage saying the Prime Minister was "nasty, sarcastic" in rejecting his big real estate deal and cancels his trip to Denmark.

He endorses background checks for gun buyers, then abruptly backs off after his NRA masters say "no, you've had your fun". Someone warns him an economic downturn might be on the horizon, so he blames the media but cancels tariff increases and mulls a payroll tax decrease (further ballooning the deficit). Chastises Jews who would dare to vote for someone other than him as being disloyal (are you kidding me? ).

Then he accuses the Clintons for murdering his old pal Jeffrey Epstein. What will it take, how much is too much? War with the European union? Not to mention stocking the swamp with alligators. It appears he's losing it and destroying our country in the process.

Terril Spitze

Twain Harte

The Trump shuffle

To the Editor:

In the 1982 movie “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” actor Charles Durning playing the governor demonstrates his clever political evasion of direct questions with his confusing answers, as he sings and dances to a tune called “The Sidestep.” It was his way of avoiding making any decisions as governor until he sees voter polls.

President Trump probably can’t sing and dance like Durning, but he certainly can obfuscate his position on any subject uttered from his mouth or through a Twitter storm. The latest, and ongoing one concerns his flip-flopping on what should be done about the continuing obscenity of gun violence in this country.

It must be apparent to even Trump voters and supporters (if they were honest with themselves), that among other moral shortcomings as a man, he is only concerned for his political position as he caters to his base of supporters.

The polls tell us that the greater percentage of Americans favor doing something about gun killing of innocents, by background checks and red flag laws that could prevent the wrong person from buying and using a gun, especially one used like the military with such deadly results.

Again, our president caves to the likes of the NRA who he doesn’t want to upset and potentially lose voters. His weak leadership (none), clings to “mental illness” and passing laws that threaten the death penalty for the guilty — assuming they survive a shootout or don’t take their own lives.

We are divided in our political beliefs as perhaps never before, but this issue transcends positions as we see the tragedy of actions not taken, of lives cut short, of potential never achieved, and family and friends robbed of loved ones forever.

We are at war my friends. Are you next to go?

Wayne Kirkbride

Twain Harte

How teens can stay healthy

To the Editor:

As a physician reading about the problem of high schools not being able to obtain enough football players to have a team (“Teams battle reduced rosters,” Sept. 3) I could not help but notice the contrast of activities mentioned in the article: playing football in comparison to vaping, the latter an infraction for which some players were put on probation for three weeks.

It can be seriously argued that vaping might be less hazardous to the human body than playing football, particularly for all those high schoolers who dream of playing in the NFL where, after a substantial career, 99 percent will have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a condition that can occur in up to 21 percent of high school players).

I would suggest: Ban high school and college football as it is currently played, don’t smoke, don’t vape, use your seatbelt, cut out sodas…and spend some time off your cell phone.

Michael Maiman


If the cap fits

To the Editor:

Should we call President Trump a fascist? There have been examples throughout the Trump administration of behavior that fits the accepted definitions of fascism as found in dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Even though those definitions vary in scope and specifics, it is clear that fascism is a harmful form of governance that serves the powerful at the expense of the many. It can seem to be the friend and the desire of the people, but this misconception is the result of emotional manipulation and dishonest propaganda. Let's see if the cap fits before we let him wear it.

• A demagogue as an authoritarian leader — makes emotional appeals about victimhood and national identity; promotes divisiveness; abuses presidential power; punishes any opposition; disregards legal standards and accepted boundaries.

• Mythology and cult-like following — "make America great again"; "American carnage"; "deep state"; "only I can fix it"; "drain the swamp"; "invasion"

• One party rule — gerrymandering and voter suppression; deliberate dysfunction in the Senate; partisan judicial appointments; career employees replaced by political appointees; politicized Justice Department.

• Propaganda — Fox News; talk radio; lies about "fake news"; suppression of science; relentless lying.

• Alliance of government with business and industry — "energy dominance"; regulatory capture; protectionism.

• Racism — white supremacy; demonizing immigrants.

• Alliance with organized religion — sexism; discrimination against LGBTQ ; policies toward Israel.

• Nationalism — "only America first"; insistence on patriotic rituals.

• Militarism

George Orwell wrote that "as used, the word "fascism" is almost entirely meaningless." But he went on to say that the word "bully" as a synonym for fascist, "is as near to a definition as this much-abused word can come."

We should know it when we see it, "And who the cap fit, let them wear it."

John Watson


Where’s the real county budget?

To the Editor:

Allegedly the county is in a financial bind and will have a serious funding shortage for the fire department, libraries, the new jail, and other various public services along with possible layoffs Yet, as reported in the Union Democrat, they do have $38,500 available to give to a consulting company to pay them for a tax feasibility study and survey which has resulted in a sales tax and hotel tax increase to be put on the fall ballot.

I think that the county should have been able to come to the same conclusions without extra expenditure of our already scarce tax dollars. There has also been controversy over the expense of hiring yet another economic development director and providing salary and benefit increases for all, despite the county's serious financial dilemma.

We never see a real budget with income and expenditures actually shown, we are just told there is a shortage of funding and that we must increase taxes give them more money because it is needed for various this and that.

A novel idea would be that the taxpayers are presented with an actual county budget so they can see real revenue and expenses for the year. The county should know, with some accuracy, how much revenue they are going to be able to generate for the year and budget those funds accordingly.

Using scare tactics and conjecture should have no place in county government. At one meeting we were told that any tax increase would be equal to a happy meal a week, but the point is that people still have to be able to afford another happy meal so the child doesn’t go hungry. More tax money given to the county equals more money for them to waste on nonsense.

Duane Lillie


Planning needs public input

To the Editor:

This is a citizen request to the current Tuolumne County Grand Jury.

Please investigate the history of the demise of public input into community planning, design and review of our shared landscape.

Only recently, informed local volunteers oversaw growth and development in their communities of Twain Harte, Groveland, Jamestown and Columbia to ensure projects great and small did not detract from the general quality of life we all enjoy.

These dedicated neighbors, friends and associates devoted countless hours of sharing, caring and research to better our daily lives for a negligible stipend or no compensation at all. They were motivated by a sense of worth in local history, beauty and integrity.

Misguided efforts to streamline the development of the area have allowed the proliferation of shoddy projects that assault the sensibilities. Cheap now trumps character.

Drive along Parrotts Ferry Road to see cinder block outbuildings, prefab instant neighborhoods and view-killing barriers. Extra points if you listen to ‘Barf Construction’ by local legends Doo Doo Wah.

Grand Jury members, please shine a light on our own habitat, the nest we despoil is worth tending.

R D Haratani