Childhood memories

To the Editor:

I grew up in Tuolumne County, and like many of you, have vivid memories of my childhood in the country. Every night, I was serenaded by the chorus of coyotes in the distance, crickets chirping and frogs croaking. I woke to the raucous songs of a multitude of birds.

Fireflies were a regular feature of evening cookouts, and during the day the air was filled with the buzz of bees and a wide variety of butterflies. And, oh the bugs. An evening drive always meant a windshield filled with bugs, and some truly gross splats of larger bugs right in your line of sight.

There was always a spider in the bathtub, and one of our weekly cleaning tasks was taking down cobwebs in the house. We would definitely never think of leaving a window open without a screen in place. The outdoors was a wonderland of discovery. Every rock hid a fascinating collection of insects. Do you remember?

Where has all that life gone?

We don’t need scientists to tell us that our environment has changed drastically in our own lifetime. Our children and grandchildren will never experience the abundance of life that we enjoyed.

The last decade we’ve seen an acceleration of these changes. The pine beetle has killed 130 million trees, and hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and grasslands are lost each year to unprecedented wildfires. Ski resorts open late or don’t open at all. Drought and water shortages are more “normal” than “normal” water conditions.

But, it’s not too late to save what we have left. The “Moonshot” for our generation is nothing less than saving our environment for ourselves and our children. We have the ingenuity and resources. But we must do it now, before there’s nothing left to save.

Nan Fuller

Sonora

Solutions?

To the Editor:

First off, we are offering our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and homes in the fire in Butte County. It is however puzzling why local, state and federal governments are not taking a harder look into residential areas, which are prone to catastrophes like the one in Butte County, and come up with reasonable solutions to prevent future events like the one in Paradise.

Our question is not to delve in the causes of fires but rather to look into the prevention of such extensive destruction once a fire has started. Accidental start of a fire can and will happen, either caused by humans or by nature, but we believe that today’s society has the ability to discuss the subject in a rational way.

The solutions may be many fold like metal roofs, non-flammable siding, removal of brush near structures, etc. We do believe that mandatory indoor sprinkler systems are not cost effective, because a reliable water and stand-by power supply would be required, which then makes new construction much more expensive. It could also expose a home to considerable water damage in case a sprinkler system goes off accidentally.

One more point to consider is this, the responsibility of Cal-Fire or the lack thereof, to hold those responsible who violate the current regulations regarding clearing properties of flammable vegetation around residences.

We venture to say, that it would most likely be less costly to keep seasonal firefighters as full time inspectors, compared to the enormous costs to fight the large fires in recent history, let alone the tragedy of lost lives and property.

It may be nice and cozy to live in the forest, rather than in a neighborhood where no or little vegetation exists, but there are consequences to our choices.

Peter Jelito

Tuolumne

‘Retooling’ the workforce?

To the Editor:

General Motors just announced closing seven plants and firing more than 15,000 workers. A few years ago our local lumber mill in Standard closed down and laid off all employees, supposedly for retooling. Why do I mention both in context?

Because once the mill reopened it also “retooled” its workforce. With the closure, union contracts were ripped up. The new mill hired only non-union workers.

Is GM following the same path? Close factories in Michigan, where labor unions have been strong since the Great Depression. Southern states stick to the centuries-old tradition of treating their workers like enemies. No unions there. How inviting.

Car manufacturing thrived in recent years. Mercedes Benz opened a plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, BMW in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Volkswagen in Chattanooga, and Nissan in Tennessee and Mississippi. Employers there enjoy a freer rein, almost like in those “good ole” days when slavery was their greatest business asset.

However, trouble brewed in Tennessee. Volkswagen insisted the workforce should speak with management on an (almost) even level. VW employees worldwide elect work councils. With one proviso: Management cannot be overruled; it has one extra vote to break a stalemate.

Volkswagen knows the benefits of cooperation versus confrontation. All employment-related decisions are negotiated and cleared with the works council beforehand. Plant closures or layoffs? A plan has already been agreed on to cushion adverse effects on workers.

Winning wasn’t easy. Bob Corker, Republican senator from Tennessee, was adamant to scrap VW’s construction plans. No UAW. Not in the South. The compromise was a special, little “union” just for Volkswagen. Now everyone was happy.

I’m afraid GM is following the same playbook. I expect GM to cause misery in Democratic Michigan and create jobs in Trumpland. You have to give it to him: a genius at work.

Klaus Kraemer

Sonora

Truth

To the Editor:

Truth, not Trump.

John Watson

Columbia

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