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Coastal Voices: Feds must compensate for land grabs

Congress is currently in the midst of trying to negotiate a final surface transportation authorization bill. While this is important legislation for a number of reasons, it also could contain a one-year extension of two pieces of legislation that are critical to Del Norte County and other local governments across the country: the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program, both of which have expired.

The federal government uses these and other programs to compensate local governments for the loss of tax revenue that would otherwise be received if the land remained in private ownership.  Local government revenues are primarily derived from property tax collections.  With limited property to tax, our ability to function and survive is significantly hindered.  In Del Norte County, more than 470,670 acres is owned by the federal government — nearly 73 percent of our entire community! And, that figure does not include land owned by the state or tribal governments, which further limits tax receipts.

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Coastal Voices: Beware of environmental ‘umbrella’

On Saturday, May 26th, a small item appeared in the Triplicate’s Reporter’s Notebook on page A5. This article was titled “Future refuge lies nearby.” After reading this brief article I felt obligated to scream out, “Wait a minute, this is a huge red flag.”

Let’s take a moment to review a slice of history from California and in particular Del Norte County.  There was a time when a large number of timber mills were operating here. Some large, some small, all privately owned. These mills and the timber industry dominated the economy of this county.  Every person that has lived here for a generation or more has personally known family members that were provided employment by this industry. Many kids growing up here naturally expected that they too would eventually “work at the mills.”

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Editor's Note: Election Night at triplicate.com

Election Night will be different this time. With the Triplicate’s conversion to three days a week last October, we no longer produce a Wednesday newspaper.

That means no deadline drama as we wait for results and wonder if they’ll arrive in time to get them into the next morning’s print edition. No frustration as the minutes tick by with no updates. No sudden rush at the end to plaster the latest numbers and candidate reactions onto the pages.

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Our View: Facts in hand, it’s time to vote

Okay, it’s true. The series of four “fact check” stories that the Triplicate has published in recent days told you a lot more about what county supervisors can’t  do than what they can do.

Maybe we should have called them reality checks, but the truth certainly provides useful context as voters listen to candidates say what they’re going to do or what they have done or what their opponents should have done.

• The county government spends about $98 million annually, but its discretionary spending amounts to about $250,000.

• If they convinced enough city leaders to go along, county supervisors could dissolve the Solid Waste Authority, but the county would be taking on debt as a result, not getting rid of it.

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Coastal Voices: Time to quit persecuting Alexander

I am not a lawyer but it seems we all love to pick on lawyers. But nobody likes to pick on lawyers more than other lawyers. For us “regular” folks, a lawyer is an easy target for jokes as most of us don’t really understand what a lawyer is or does in our society.

Lawyers are competitive in nature. This may be why, like sharks, they seem to take a special delight in turning on each other. Let one show that he has a heart, that he actually cares about people who have been damaged, or that he’s willing to stretch himself a little if it will help truer justice to prevail in a straitjacketed system … and it’s on. May God have mercy on his soul.

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Coastal Voices: Medical pot — Why do we need a law to allow a right?

I am writing out of concern over letters to the editor attempting to muddy the reputation of the people (the many, many people) who use cannabis in this county and elsewhere.

Many say our medical use laws are poorly written, and for a people who need permission for every aspect of life, I suppose this is possible. In fact, the law we voted for in 1996 calls for safe, affordable distribution of cannabis as it states one of its purposes; “to encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”

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Coastal Voices: Charges don’t hold water

Editor’s note: A portion of this written statement was included in the May 15 article, “DA ‘going to war’ with the Bar.”

The State Bar of California will soon file a notice of disciplinary charge against me.  That will result in an administrative hearing.

The Bar’s prosecutorial arm, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel, has taken this action in spite of me addressing each charge and providing over the past year, full and accurate answers to each allegation against me.

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Editor's Note: Even eclipses are eclipsed by clouds, chatter

Size matters. So do clouds.

I’m as excited as the next person about Sunday’s annular eclipse. I’ve got my solar viewing glasses ready and I’m not going to abandon hope just because the weather forecast keeps graying.

Still, catching the show on the beach is looking iffy. It’s probably time to consider a backup plan for an inland viewing point — if we’re not completely socked in.

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Our View: Passion, politics and some truths

There’s a lot at stake in the races for three of five seats on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, and the seven candidates spoke with genuine passion at the Triplicate candidates forum last week.

Still, an unusual thing happened when members of the newspaper’s Editorial Board assembled a few days later to discuss which candidates to endorse. We decided not to.

We feel as strongly as the candidates about the issues at play, but we just came to a group realization that it wasn’t really our place to flat-out tell people how to vote.

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Coastal Voices: Our own ‘invisible children’

There’s a lot of buzz in the world about the firm, “Kony 2012” and the “invisible children” of Africa who are being kidnapped, brutalized and murdered by Joseph Kony and his army of terrorists.

While I would in no manner minimize those atrocities and the plight of the African nations being held in the thrall of Joseph Kony, I can’t help but think of the our own “invisible children” here in Del Norte County.

We don’t have a terrorist warlord brutalizing our children, but there is a segment of our population that suffers under the rule of a heartless despot and his name is “hunger.”

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