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Coastal Voices: Obama treated like king, not president

We are $17 trillion in debt.

It no longer matters how much of that debt was “inherited.” This president has managed to raise it almost $7 trillion in 5 years!

Regarding his Oct. 17 letter to the editor (“Congress puts own goals ahead of nation’s welfare”), I don’t know how old Craig Johnson is, or where he went to school, but I was taught all about the U.S. Constitution, the whys and wherefores of the writers.

I was taught how the three branches of our government, legislative, executive, and judicial work, and it does not work when you elevate the executive one-third to some level just short of majesty.  The legislative one-third has two sections, the House and the Senate.

The House, not the Senate and especially not the executive branch, is responsible for the “purse strings.” It passes the bills, to pay the bills, and forwards them to the Senate, where they are supposed to be debated, amended if deemed necessary, and sent back to the House for further consideration, working with the Senate for the good of the country.  Or if the Senate agrees, sent to the president for his signature or veto.

Harry Reed has “tabled” almost every bill recently sent to the Senate for discussion. Refusing to even let the Senate read them, much less discuss them. Bills were sent to fund everything necessary for the common good, before they were shut down by the president.

Just as with sequestering, he or his minions decided where to hurt the public the most. Whose idea was it to deny WWII vets access to their own monument? The National Mall is usually wide open 24/7. Whose idea was it to allow an  alien amnesty rally, with its stage, speakers, and music on the same grounds that were denied to the vets?


Church Notebook: Bethel Christian welcomes back senior pastors

 It looks like it’s actually going to make it!  I was doubtful at first, but that gloxinia now has at least three buds and apparently will bloom soon.

Different things in our lives can be like that, too. We make wonderful plans for our lives, and sure enough, something comes along and disrupts them. Sometimes, it really turns things upside down.

My plans, early on, were to become a doctor. I just needed to be accepted for premed, and win that scholarship. Got the college acceptance — but my best friend won the scholarship.

I became a wife and mother of six instead — and went to nursing school when No. 6 went to kindergarten.

So I still ended up caring for people, just in a different capacity. One never knows — and now I volunteer at the hospital, and write this column. You just never can be sure how it will all shake out!

But through all those changes, one thing was the same — my faith. Oh, at times it was stretched pretty thin, until I realized that I had to really hang onto it good and tight. Then, no matter how frustrating things can get, it still goes better!

• Bethel Christian Center will welcome back senior pastors Santos and Alice from Las Vegas for a special day of ministry Sunday.


California Focus: New law could threaten vote-counting reliability

Suddenly this fall, a potential threat has emerged to the vote-counting reliability Californians have enjoyed for the last six years.

This comes from a new law just signed without hoopla by Gov. Jerry Brown, who listed it among 30 signings and five vetoes in a press release.

Here’s the possible threat: This measure will allow the California secretary of state to approve new electronic voting systems that have received no certification at all for use in actual elections. It also ends a long-standing requirement that all electronic voting systems be certified at the federal level before they’re used here and allows counties to develop their own voting systems.

This bill cried out for a veto from Brown, considering the problems encountered by electronic voting systems during much of the last decade. Comprehensive testing demonstrated that many could be hacked, with the possibility that programming might be inserted so that – for one example – when a voter touched a screen favoring one candidate, the vote actually went to someone else.

No one ever proved that such hacking occurred in a real election, but the machines’ hardware and software could make this kind of cheating virtually undetectable. Some Democrats have long believed cheating of that kind occurred in Ohio in 2004. They note that the head of a firm called Diebold Election Systems co-chaired the Ohio campaign of Republican President George W. Bush and promised he would never allow 2004 Democratic challenger John Kerry to take that state.


House Calls: Infection prevention and you

House Calls runs monthly. Today’s column is written by Deanna Russell, ICU supervisor and “Infection Preventionist” at Sutter Coast Hospital.

October is “National Infection Prevention” month and the kickoff for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Flu Vaccination season (October 2013–March 2014).

It is a perfect time to learn techniques to help you stay healthy at home, in a health-care setting, local schools and everywhere. 

These healthy prevention tips come from the National Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology (APIC) http://consumers.site.apic.org/infection-prevention-in/everywhere-else/. 

Staying healthy at home

Don’t bring infections home to your family. Follow these steps to ensure you create and maintain a healthy and infection-free environment:

• Wash or sanitize your hands after you come home from public places. Wash hands before preparing food, before eating, between handling uncooked fruit and vegetables and raw meats, and after toilet use.

• Use safe-cooking practices. Foodborne illnesses frequently arise from poor food preparation and dining habits.

 


Church Notebook: ‘Outreach in Park’ donations sought

Seventh-day Adventist Church putting on vegetarian cooking class

Ghosts and goblins, black cats and bats — we have no difficulty in recognizing the next “holiday” on the calendar.

But this is one fraught with controversy, because some churches put thumbs down on this one, while others have parties to keep the kids off the streets.

Whatever your view on this one, it’s sure to be challenged in the next couple of weeks.

We do celebrate that day at my house, but for a different reason — it’s my birthday.

It’s another of those times, however, that we need to be more cautious driving, and to keep our ears tuned for trouble.

Kids are excited and running from house to house to collect treats. They don’t look where they are going, and oftentimes those cute costumes they’re wearing obscure their vision — so it’s up to us to keep them safe.

The other negative aspect, sadly, is that these days predators are a concern, and events like we see on Halloween can make youngsters more vulnerable. Even if we don’t personally have kids out there making the rounds, other people do, and I think we should all want to keep them safe.


E & P: A new appreciation for DNHS coaches

Today’s the first day on the job for the Triplicate’s new sports editor, Michael Zogg, who just arrived from Iowa.

That’s good news for readers who follow the Warriors and have perhaps noticed that the coverage has been a bit spare in the past month as various news staffers have filled in here and there. Three different people have covered football games, for example. Fortunately, whatever the sport, the words have still been accompanied by Bryant Anderson’s fine photos when Del Norte plays at home.

I’ve been part of the makeshift arrangement, and one thing I’ll take from it is a stronger appreciation of the dedicated coaches who lead our young athletes. I’ve interviewed several of them by phone after a contest, and whether they were celebrating victory or looking for the positives in a defeat, their knowledge of the sport and their empathy for their players was obvious.

We’re lucky to have them, and these conversations have reinforced my belief that the athletic opportunities afforded to our kids — from youth sports to high school varsity competition — are an important part of what makes this a good place to live.

Have fun with them, Michael.

Covering the prison

Once again, reporters came from far and wide to tour Pelican Bay State Prison last week in the wake of a hunger strike protesting the indeterminate terms many inmates serve in Security Housing Units.


Coastal Voices: Crowded classes 1 sign we are failing in schools

I need to respond to the Sept. 28 article, “Classes crowded at DNHS.” As a retired teacher of that school, I can attest to this.

“Normal” or “good” is not above 30 or 40 students per class. Multiply this by five classes a day, and that’s 150 to 200 students every day. The Harvard School of Education stated years ago that for effective learning, class size should not be above 20 students.

Where do students go? They drop out! We graduate about half of entering freshmen, but, “We don’t have a ‘drop-out’ problem.”

When I first started teaching at the high school, about 27 years ago, my Spanish classes had about 26 students. My sophomore English classes only had 20, because the state had found that if students remained in school past the 10th grade, they normally graduated, so the state subsidized the classes.

About seven to eight years ago, I taught Independent Study and needed to refresh Algebra. The class I audited was so large that I could not see all the screen or board. I was frustrated and dropped out.

Before I retired, I had wall to wall students; not having room for enough desks, I added chairs to my seating plan. I would assign these to students I thought were emotionally strong and give them extra credit.

With 200, or more, students a day, how can their needs be met? How much attention can they get? How much time can teachers spend on their work?

The ratio previously agreed to by the union, was not an ideal, but an attempt to accommodate  necessity,  but it seems there is no end with the district. How sad it is we spend about $5,000 a year per student to educate here, but the state will spend $58,000 per   year to keep a person in prison.


Open house for retiring teacher

The leaves on the maple trees in front of my house are starting to turn. There are several yellow ones now and before long there’ll be a lot more colors.

I love that aspect of the maples, but I hate seeing them bare in the winter. I hope the winter flies by because I’m not crazy about the cold weather.

But changes are the cycles of life, and before we know it, there will be little green buds on those branches and it will start all over again.

• Cycles of life change us, too, and are happening to a friend of mine at Grace Lutheran Church.

I first met Jane Goss several years ago when a group of folks from the various churches got together and did a benefit concert for Community Assistance Network, back when I was serving on the board there.

Beside being a very important teaching part of the school at Grace, Jane always helps out at the fair every year, taking in the baked and handcrafted items that are entered. It is always her pleasant smile that makes standing in line awaiting your turn worth the wait.

Jane is retiring after 25 years of classroom teaching, and I’m sure the kids will certainly miss her.

They won’t lose her completely, though, because she’ll still be there in an administrative position.

Today from 1 to 5 p.m., there will be an open house at the church. Guests will be encouraged to decorate a page in the memory book for her. Best wishes, Jane!


Let’s get real: Water system is in jeopardy

Every citizen of Crescent City should be concerned about the water rate increase that is now before the City Council, not because your rates will go up, but because our water system is in jeopardy.

For parcel owners who think they have a legitimate reason to block the water rate increase, there will be a protest vote public hearing on Nov. 4 so you can be heard. If there are 50 percent plus one parcels counted against the water rate increase, the measure will fail ... and unfortunately, so will our water system at some point.

As you may have heard, our water rates are the lowest in the region and have not been raised in over a decade, which is great for the ratepayers, but not so much for maintaining a critical infrastructure project like our water system, which delivers some of the cleanest water in the region to our homes for less than 50 cents per day.

Even with the 60 percent increase, the average water customer would only be paying an additional $80 per year and getting that clean water delivered to their home for only 53 cents per day — after the initial increase.

Over the last couple of years under the guidance of our city manager, Gene Palazzo, five-year strategic plans have been put into place to help the city anticipate and plan for maintenance, repair and expansion of our critical systems, which include police, fire, buildings, sewer and water.

Without these plans, the city was working in a mainly reactionary manner and having to come up with money for repairs and replacement of assets on the fly, most of the time at greater cost to the taxpayer. With the strategic plans, the city can be more fiscally responsible by planning and saving up through corrective rate increases for services that cover the costs of these maintenance projects, which can go into the millions of dollars.

By not borrowing the money, the city is saving money in the long run.


Coastal Voices: Even in DN, don't take water for granted

“Whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”

-— Quote attributed to Mark Twain

Lets just forget the possibility of a water rate increase for a minute and take the time to reflect on what water really means to all of us.

Once the importance of water is honestly assessed, we’ll be more equipped to objectively address the rates necessary to deliver the water to our homes and businesses.

We all know from basic science classes that our bodies are actually about 97 percent water! Water is a basic building block of life. Without drinking water none of us survive very long. The majority of the world’s population lives near or depends upon freshwater environments.

My brother recently retired from a career working with the World Health Organization to improve the public health of people living in developing countries. He does not hesitate to volunteer that the biggest threat to the populations of those countries is simply the lack of clean drinking water.

We drink, bathe, cook, clean, flush and play in and around water. Our crops and animals of all kinds need and consume water. We depend on water to put out fires in our forests and buildings. Water runs all manner of machinery and provides power to our industrialized world.

Here in California it is not unusual to hear about “water wars” between special interest groups, and between populations in Northern and Southern California. Dams and reservoirs are constructed, and complex, expensive delivery systems developed.


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