Richardson layoff misguided

To the Editor:

My husband and I have known Daniel Richardson, our former General Services Agency director of Tuolumne County, and his family for the past 22 years. We have lived in our beautiful county for 43 years and we have never known in this community a man of greater integrity and dedication to his work.

I am sick at heart that after so many years of wonderful service to Tuolumne County and its residents, the county has seen fit to simply turn him out. He is a man of great personal talent and unflinching devotion to his charge, and I would simply hope a place can be found for him in our community so that we will all continue to have the benefit of his enormous abilities, his pure heart and the wonderful influence of his family to continue among us.

Daniel’s wife, Kathleen, works at Twain Harte Elementary School. Their six children have proven to be of a tremendous influence in this community and now their older children in the world. Since we moved here in 1976, Tuolumne County has been a family minded and strong community minded group of people, striving to put the best and the brightest in jobs of leadership positions.

I sincerely hope we have not turned a bad corner by showing the door to such a good, hard working and upstanding man who, along with his family, have always given their very best on behalf of Tuolumne County and on behalf of the residents therein.

If room cannot be found for Mr. Richardson it would be a mistake and a grave turn in the wrong direction of the county’s leadership capacity and of benefit to no one in our community.

Pamela A. Boyack


The World’s Richest Country?

To the Editor:

To 18th century mercantilists, a nation’s wealth was the king’s gold. Trump measures our wealth by GDP and the seesawing stock market, (now goosed with a $1.8 trillion tax giveaway to his corporate sponsors for stock buy-backs.) Measured by per-capita GDP, we’re rich, like Qatar, or Macao. How meaningful is GDP when, since Reagan, the benefits of automation and productivity have gone to the top 1 percent. How relevant is the DOW to most Americans, who don’t own stocks.

If your house, your biggest asset, went four decades without maintenance, your net worth suffered. That’s our nation’s situation: one third of bridges technically deficient; unaffordable health care bankrupting families, half lacking even $500 for an emergency; massive incarceration; life expectancy low, and declining; rising “deaths of despair,” opioids, suicides. We’re 18th in the World’s Happiness Index. Even in the California foothills, wonderful for us seniors, our local libraries, public pools and youth programs are threatened.

Corporations originated as business entities (not persons) chartered to benefit the nation, not just investors. Today, with rapacious crony capitalism, culminating with Trump’s Republicans, a failing system is questioned. Concern motivated the corporate elite Business RoundTable to feign disassociation from Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman “Greed is Good” capitalism. Trump clearly admires the systems of Russia, China, maybe even North Korea. The well-connected, beholden few reap the gains.

Trump fomented hate and harnessed resentment to get elected, then, predictably, betrayed public trust. Not coincidentally, trust is eroding in American style capitalism, and disturbingly, even in our democracy. Popular upheavals rarely end well. As in Poland, Brazil and Italy (apparently forgetting Mussolini,) ultra-nationalists, fascists and charismatic charlatans wait in the wings.

To restore normalcy, America must reclaim its self-respect, basic human decency and rebuild the essential socially responsible democracy of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Harry Truman.

Paolo Maffei


Tree hazard at children’s park

To the Editor:

Someone is not doing their job.

I cannot believe what I observed today, but it was staring me right in the face. I was a guest at a birthday party at the Heaven for Kids picnic area. Families and guests with children celebrating birthdays, having a wonderful time, great celebrations. Just what you would expect to be going on.

Some of the area is sloping and a good many oak trees. All of the tables were being used and everyone was accommodated. I struck up a conversation about how the picnic area might be improved, noticing a rusted through grill and a live oak that might warrant inspection.

Then I looked up at the canopy. I could not believe all the dead limbs. This area needs attention now. This is a place enjoyed by a lot of people with children and the hazard is immediate.

I think this should take precedence over climate change, some Trump tweet or the budget short falls of the county. You don’t need to hire a consultant. A third grader could point out the hazards.

Jon Rodgers


Fire insurance solutions

To the Editor:

Here are suggestions for fire-related regulations that the State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara should consider:

1. If property owners meet CALFIRE standards on their property, they should not get their insurance canceled.

2. If property owners don’t meet CALFIRE standards, they should have six months to meet those standards.

3. Grants should be made available to low-income people to aid in meeting standards.

4. Inspections should be done by a third party, not the insurance companies.

5. If insurance companies will not cover homes in fire-prone areas, they should not be able to write policies in other areas of California.

6. Cost of fire insurance in fire-prone areas should be no more than 10 percent higher than costs in other areas of California.

7. The state should create statewide standards for construction materials, fire protection resources, water availability, and fire access in fire-prone areas. Require any new construction in fire-prone areas to meet those state-wide standards.

The crisis is now. The State Insurance Commissioner has the power to act in the best interests of the citizens of California, not the interest of insurance companies. Do not wait for catastrophic disaster to begin helping the communities of California. Waiting will cost more.

Jim Schmidt


What about teachers?

To the Editor

The op-ed piece about Andrew Luck’s decision to retire was largely touching. But one of the author’s points was dead wrong. “Yes, it’s ($140 million) an unfathomable amount of money,” he wrote. “But (athletes) get such ridiculous contracts because they’re also entertainers. They perform for us. We pay for their performance. They deserve what they earn. End of debate…”

No, let the debate begin. What if we paid teachers, oh, how about one one-thousandth (1/1,000) of what Mr. Luck was paid? (That would be $140,000.) They “perform” for us too, and their performance, teaching our kids, is arguably more important to us than a guy who throws a football very well. Or how about paying that much to relieve our shortage of nurses. Or day-care providers? Or nursing home care providers as the country ages?

I know. An athlete’s salary isn’t paid (directly, anyway) by “We, the People,” so there is a difference. (But owners of sports franchises frequently get huge subsidies from local- and state governments that help them pay the athletes’ salaries.) But that level of inequality is incredibly unhealthy for the future of our country and shows priorities that are deeply flawed.

So, no, Mr. Davich. Let’s debate that discrepancy. And at the same time, we can still respect Mr. Luck’s decision to retire.

Gary Sipperley

Twain Harte