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California Focus: Immigration change vital, but not enough

Last fall’s overwhelming, more than 3-1 Latino vote for President Obama has at last gotten leading Republican politicians to realize they can’t permanently treat all 11 million undocumented immigrants like criminals.

Gradually, too, from possible president candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to former presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain, they are coming to accept the notion that any significant plan to change American immigration policy must include some path to citizenship for illegals who have lived and worked many years in America.

They are still far from convincing all their party mates that shifting to this stance and abandoning their far more hard-line past positions favoring mass deportation is suicidal for the party in a nation where Latinos are the fastest-growing population element and voter bloc.

Tony Quinn, a former Republican political operative and now co-editor of the California Target Book guide to state politics, calls GOP leaders favoring changes in their policy “Republicans who can count.”

They are, he said, “moving to take over the party with a mission to stop alienating the fastest growing parts of the American electorate.”

Changing immigration law to create a doable path to citizenship, of course, will not be enough. (And there is some doubt that the 13-year waiting period included in the immigration reform package now before the U.S. Senate fits into the doable category.)

The GOP will also have to convince Hispanic voters its candidates are the best choices on the other issues salient to Latinos — the same ones at the top of other Americans’ agendas. Those include job creation, education reform and health care, according to the latest survey by Latino Decisions, whose polling of Latinos before last November’s election correctly forecast an Obama margin of about 75 percent to 25 percent among Hispanics.

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Coastal Voices: We can find ways to help homeless

When you see someone truly in need and you say to them, “go, be warm and well fed,” but you turn your back and walk the other way, where is the compassion? For your words “be warm and well fed” are empty and meaningless without the action to actually help someone be warm and well fed.

I have written before about the “small town kindness” of the people that live here in our town and once again, today I am amazed. My friend Donne, the office manager at Safeway, overheard a customer speaking long distance to his mother in Fresno: “Mom, I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do, since losing my job, little Michael (3 years old) and I had to sleep out on the street last night. He was so hungry and cold, can you please send us bus money to come home? 

Imagine the pain for that grandmother that was down to her last $20 which she wired to her son and grandson to help get them back to Fresno.

When Donne heard that, she jumped into action. She gave the boy a bag of chips she had and when he devoured them she knew she had to help. So off to the deli they went, and at her own expense, she bought them breakfast.

When Brian, our store manager, got the story, he rallied all of us to chip in for this little family to buy a bus ticket to get home to mom and grandma. Not only did he say, “be warm,” he took the man and his little 3-year-old home to his home to spend the night, have some dinner and outfit little Michael with some outgrown clothes from his own son.

Can you imagine the relief to all, to the grandmother, in Fresno to know that the kindness of strangers would provide for her son and grandson till they got home to her, and to the young father to know his own son would not be cold or hungry for that night?

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Church Notebook: Remembering all the mothers in our lives

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but the ones that really matter are the ones we call our own.

And they come in a few different categories: our moms, mothers-in-law, step-mothers, grandmothers — we usually can count quite a few for each of us. That is, of course, unless you fit into that senior citizen group with me — then that list has grown shorter.

The most maligned, of course, and joked about, is the mother-in-law.

At 73, I don’t have any of those folks left — and I have held all those titles in my own right. But one very special lady in my past was my mother-in-law.

“Ma” was the best mother-in-law anyone could have, and I really loved her. She was half Cherokee, and there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do — except one. She was deathly afraid of snakes.

She taught me to cook and grow things — for food and for beauty. And she taught me how to make wedding cakes. She taught me how to do a lot of things — except one. I would watch entranced as reams of beautiful lace flowed from her fingers as she tatted — but try as she might to pass on that skill, that was one thing I was completely inept at.

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California Focus: Court’s hit on prisons actually helps Brown

Normally, it’s uncomfortable at best to hear a federal judge — let alone a panel of three such jurists — thunder criticism atone from the bench.

But as usual, Gov. Jerry Brown is different. For beyond doubt, prison realignment has drawn more criticism than any other single thing he has done in his second incarnation as governor, even more than his devotion to high speed rail. But the judges’ tirade now provides Brown a convenient scapegoat, one on which he can pin blame for the entire prisoner-release program, and with complete accuracy.

That, of course, wasn’t the way the three-man judicial panel intended things to go when making bald threats against the governor if he doesn’t release even more convicts.

“At no point over the past several months have defendants indicated any willingness to comply, or made any attempt to comply, with the orders of this court,” said the panel, referring to Brown and his administration. “In fact, they have blatantly defied (court orders).”

The three jurists — district judges Lawrence Karlton and Thelton Henderson and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Steven Reinhardt — gave Brown 21 days to submit a plan for meeting their prison population target by the end of this year. If Brown doesn’t simultaneously begin complying with the court order, the judges said, he risks being cited for contempt. So the governor said he would ready a plan to release 10,000 more prisoners in case his appeals fail.

Imagine a California governor sitting in the basement lockup of a federal courthouse eating cheese sandwiches. Theoretically, at least, it could happen, if the judges aren’t satisfied with Brown’s response.

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House Calls: Get organized with medication

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Ann Timmerman
Now’s the time to inventory your medication — before the info is needed in an
emergency

House Calls runs monthly. Today’s column is written by Ann Timmerman, a registered nurse in the Sutter Coast Hospital Emergency Room.

I would like take this opportunity to talk about having an up-to-date medication list. 

Providing a current medication list will not only paint a clearer picture of your medical history, but it will also help your medical staff diagnose and treat your current needs.

Another important fact is that a current medication list will prevent potentially dangerous medication interactions. Lastly, having a current medication list will help expedite your care.  

Listed below is what should be included on your medication list:

• The name of the drug

• The dosage that you take

• When and how often you take them.  

Please write everything clearly and with the correct spelling. In short, anyone should be able to read your medication list.

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Artisan Cuisine: Party is a chance to go homemade

Artisan touches always appreciated

Artisan Cuisine is published monthly.

As a lover of artisanal foods, I’m delighted to be able to use some of the lessons I’ve learned in my last catering job of the year.

I’m about to have a baby and will be taking some much needed time off from my work. By the time you read this, I will have catered for retired film director Elmo Williams’ 100th birthday party, and every single thing on the menu I’ve made from scratch.

I think knowing how to make food the artisanal or old-fashioned way is crucial to becoming a well-rounded cook. It helps one understand the relationships with foods and even if you don’t notice a huge difference in the flavor of some things, others are usually impressed to know you’ve taken the extra effort to ensure the food is something homemade.

If you can add a few extra homemade items to your next party or get-together I guarantee you will make an impression on your guests. 

With this last meal I’m  preparing fresh homemade cheeses, which include feta cheese for the arugula salad, ricotta for the spring orecchiette pasta salad and I plan to share my homemade brie as one of the appetizers.

I’m planning to bake cornbread (Elmo’s favorite) and several loaves of buttery brioche, a twisted cinnamon braided bread and a whole grain boule that I will stencil with a giant “E” in honor of Elmo.

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Church Notebook: Series on Revelation continues

‘Baby shower’ for Pregnancy Care Center on Thursday

Of all the books in the Bible, I think that sometimes the study of Revelation brings about the most discussion, sometimes becoming quite heated. Folks have a number of opinions on it, as to its true meaning, whether it should be taken literally or figuratively — or seriously at all.

Personally, I find the book most intriguing.

To begin with, the writer, John, writes that he has been taken to heaven and is given  all manner of visions of things to come. Creatures of wild descriptions, and other things.

But I wonder — what must have it been like, for him to write about things that pertained to our time — things that he’d never seen, or even imagined

What would it be like for us to be transported 2,000 years into the future — and then to try to describe what we’d seen — with no references to compare them to?

A different view is being offered at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church via the program, “Follow the Lamb,” a series of meetings that began Friday.

Herb Montgomery will be at the church through May 11 for this series,  which will focus on the ethical teachings of Jesus, rather than the way we are used to viewing the book.

Meetings begin at 7 p.m. each evening. They are free, and all are invited.

 

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Church Notebook: Rally at one church, Variety Night at another

It was lovely while it lasted! That warm sunshine Wednesday!

Things are getting pretty in my yard — the tree rose with deep pink blooms, my favorite giant white iris and the apple trees in full bloom.

A lovely sight — but I need to find a way to keep those pesky masked bandits away from them this year — they spirited every apple away last year. And I was so looking forward to those Macouns! If you have never had one, you have no idea what a treat you are missing! A cross between MacIntosh and Cortland, they are wonderful.

But that’s all just wishing — and the good things in the wind today are faith and music.

• Today is the day for the Church of Christ Rally. If you plan on going, you have hopefully made your RSVP, as organizers requested, because there will be lunch provided.

Three speakers and worship in song from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It sounds like a great day!

• Wednesday there will be a special concert at the Redwoods Family Worship Center.

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Vista Point: Stay off the jetty, but if you’re going to go anyway...

For those who use it, the jetty serves many purposes. There’s fishing, mussel-collecting, diving and wildlife-viewing, not to mention the heady experience for those who crave it of simply being surrounded by the ocean wild while the ground beneath their feet stays level.

Yet, as we all know, people get trapped and even killed out there.

After a couple observances earlier this year of Crescent City’s aggravatingly annual winter tradition of rescuing people stranded on the harbor’s jetty by high waves, there were the ensuing second and third steps in the ritual: first, a conversation led by public safety officials about why going out on the jetty is a terrible idea and should be prevented, then a backlash of irritated locals insisting that jetty access shall not be infringed.

The argument against access: The surf is unpredictable and people may be trapped or thrown off the jetty (a long fall onto jagged rocks, no less) by unexpected waves. An op-ed by Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Malinda Sarbacker-Wiley (“Coastal Voices: Things to consider about jetty access,” Feb. 2, 2013) added that public access puts law enforcement lives at risk because jetty rescues can be as dangerous for the rescuers as for the rescued.

The argument for access: It’s not fair to punish the wise for the sins of the foolish, many locals have enjoyed the jetty for years without harm, it’s safe for people who know how to judge when wave conditions might pose a risk, so really it’s only the ignorant and the foolish who are a problem, the implication being that they get what they deserve if any harm befalls them. (It is, perhaps, a subconscious appeal to our animal instincts to let the course of nature thin the slower members of the herd.)

One letter-writer to the Triplicate, Mike Cuthbertson of Gasquet (“Why is jetty different than beaches? Close them too?” Feb. 7, 2013), said in reply to the op-ed that if the jetty should be closed to protect the lives of rescue workers, then by logical extension the beaches also should be closed to protect rescuers.

But I think more can be said about this issue with information in hand from Vista Point’s series of the past several weeks on sneaker waves.

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California Focus: Beware of easy turning to municipal bankruptcy

No one is seriously suggesting that California will soon become another Cyprus, the Greek-speaking Mediterranean island nation whose economic bailout plan includes dunning holders of “large” bank accounts as much as half their holdings and freezing the rest.

But since a federal bankruptcy judge gave the go-ahead for the city of Stockton to seek shelter from more than $1 billion in debts via Chapter 9 bankruptcy, alarm bells have been ringing loudly in the heads of municipal bond investors.

They’ve already seen California cities and counties file four of the five largest municipal bankruptcies in U.S. history, beginning with the $4 billion 1994 Orange County debacle, and then Vallejo’s $175 million case in 2008 and the in-progress cases of Stockton and San Bernardino.

If you’re the chief of municipal bond investing for a big bank, whether on Wall Street or in San Francisco, Los Angeles or Chicago, this gets your attention. You might hesitate to lend hundreds of millions of dollars to other cities and counties if you fear they might go the Stockton route. Even if you proceed, you might insist on higher interest rates to compensate for what now appears to be added risk. That can translate to higher local taxes.

If you hesitate or insist on high interest, what happens to school remodeling plans, sewer expansions and repairs, park purchases, water facilities and scores of other civic projects that won’t be built without borrowed money?

There’s also the question of who might go to work for cities and counties, some risking their lives at times as police officers or firefighters, if Stockton should be allowed to weasel out of salary and pension obligations the city and its voters agreed to.

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