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Coastal Voices: Waste Authority not a problem

I applaud the intentions of anyone who wants to come up with ideas to save the city and county money by doing things differently. But dissolving the Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) would not be one of those ideas.

There is a long list of reasons to keep it in place, as well as some fears to dispel.

The state of California mandated the closure of the Crescent City landfill because it was not in compliance with environmental regulations.  It also mandated that waste be reduced by 50 percent. The SWMA was formed to monitor the old landfill site (to prevent future fines) and build a transfer station. 

What do proponents of dissolving the SWMA mean when they say they want to privatize waste? It already has been privatized. Recology does trash collection, Julindra does recycling, and Hambro runs the transfer station.

And since Recology and Hambro had to do a lot of initial capital investment to purchase equipment, they have relatively long-term contracts.

What’s more, the SWMA’s budget is paid for by these three organizations in the form of fees at the transfer station and a franchise fee that the SWMA charges Recology and Julindra. The SWMA is funded  by the partners, not by taxpayers.

Rates tend to “jump” because once a new contract is negotiated, the contracted partners have limited power to raise rates, while the cost of doing business continues to rise. So by the time the next contract is negotiated, the partners sometimes need to make market corrections. 


Coastal Voices: Supreme Court must rein in Coastal Commission

Two events, one published and the other yet to be reported, are causing me pause.  The question that comes to my mind these days is our system of checks and balances. Both events involve the omnipotent California Coastal Commission.

Event 1: A May 9 Triplicate headline reads, “Lots at Pacific Shores Sought: Airport needs wetlands as set-aside for project.”

I rhetorically ask why property owners in the Pacific Shore development are being solicited to sell their parcels at garage sale prices. At face value it would appear that clustering those lots might help to satiate the unreasonable 4:1 acre ratio mandated by the commission to permit the expansion of the airport.

As a supervisor, I am charged with a countywide fiduciary responsibility. The property clusters newly acquired from the private sector could be turned over to a public conservancy for future wetlands considerations. The current government ownership of property in Del Norte County thereby would increase from approximately 78 percent to a higher percentage. Results: less property tax revenue generated, less services offered.

If we continue to convert private property into public lands, we remove property tax income from our already threatened ability to afford adequate public services, such as police protection, fire suppression, clean streets, quality drinking water, waste management, and a host of other public benefits.

At what cost to public safety do we add more, often inaccessible, public areas to this county? Would you prefer the ability to walk through a wild marshland to your inability to drive down a public street in your neighborhood that no longer can be maintained due to the lack of public funds? 

How do you like the sheriff’s current inability to afford more than two patrol cars per shift? Would you like to have an improved air terminal and commercial air transportation to Crescent City Airport or would you prefer to continue joining your many traveling friends who drive to the Medford, Arcata or even the San Francisco airports? These questions travel right to the root of healthy economic growth for Del Norte County.


House Calls: Preventing teen tragedies

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Emergency responders tend to students portraying drunk driving accident victims at a previous Every 15 Minutes event at Del Norte High School. Del Norte Triplicate file / Rick Postal
Every 15 Minutes event at high school next week; parents advised to converse with kids about drinking, driving

House Calls runs monthly. Today’s column was written by Rita Nicklas, Emergency Department coordinator at Sutter Coast Hospital.

Every 15 minutes someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-related car crash.

Drinking and driving has become a serious issue among American teenagers.

In order to drive safely, a person has to be alert, capable to make and carry out decisions based on what is happening around them. This coordination while driving becomes difficult under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol leads to loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowing down of reflexes and distortion of vision, all of which may cause an accident. The statistics related to alcohol and driving paint a gruesome picture about the entire trend.

Did you know that car crashes cause more teen deaths each year than drugs, violence or suicide?

Did you know that this year, like every year, more than 5,000 teens will likely die on America’s roads?

Did you know that 400,000 teens suffer serious driving-related injuries every year, and many of these are alcohol related?

Did you know that three out of four teens killed in drunk driving accidents were not wearing seat belts?


Church Notebook: Church starting garden

I keep hoping for a good run of nice warm weather, but it never lasts long enough when it comes.

I want to grow some veggies, but I keep remembering last year — how beautifully I had tomatoes, peppers, squash and pumpkins growing — and how suddenly over a couple weeks they curled up and died, no matter what I did.

So thus far, I have two tomato plants and four mild jalapeno plants, and a bunch of seeds that I’m looking at longingly.

Should I do it?

Nothing tastes better that home-grown vegetables. And last year, I discovered yellow tomatoes and yellow bell peppers, and

I’m hooked.

I’ll probably go ahead and plant them, though I’m going to need help — at least until that pinched nerve in my back gets resolved. That is definitely not a fun thing to have. But as I’ve often said before,  I’m happiest when surrounded by green, growing things. And a few days ago, someone emailed ne about a gadget that will make sounds that will repel those masked four-legged bandits, so perhaps it will be worth it to try again.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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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