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Editor's Note: A morning in the courtroom

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, 40 people trudge up the courthouse stairs into Courtroom No. 1, waiting in line to hand over their jury summonses like boarding passes.

I’m afraid to ask how many more summoned Del Norters didn’t show up to fulfill their legal obligation to the American justice system. In sparsely populated areas such as these, jury duty is a common distraction — I’ve been called four times in four years.

Still, in the end only 12 plus one alternate will be needed — if that. We take our seats in the audience portion of the courtroom and wait. And wait. Some last-minute plea bargaining is going on, in all likelihood. There’s nothing like a deadline for motivation.

Coastal Voices: Local boards distrustful of the public

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on the meetings of a few of Del Norte County’s many boards. Mind you, many of them only came into existence recently in the nearly 40 years I have lived in this county.

During the course of my attendance, several interesting behaviors were on display as I witnessed the progress of each meeting. The first and perhaps the most disturbing, was that there was a complete lack of trust on the part of many of the respective board members in the abilities of the general public.

This lack of faith for the public to accomplish even the simplest of tasks, the disposal of trash, has exploded into a complex process, often aided by governments and boards at yet loftier levels, into an expensive monster all at the expense of the people that those representatives claim to be looking out for.

Coastal Voices: On bringing ‘Monologues’ to Del Norte

Fifteen years ago, Eve Ensler, then a moderately successful New York playwright, opened the play she had been writing for two years, “The Vagina Monologues.”

Drawing on interviews she had done with more than 200 women, the resulting monologues — delivered, over the years, by actors including Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon and Oprah Winfrey — told of women’s experiences: sexuality, abuse, love and birth. This became a worldwide movement to end violence against women and girls called V-Day. For more information about V-Day go to vday.org.

The “Vagina Monologues” have always been dear to me. I have had the opportunity to see the monologues performed in Humboldt County. Several years ago, while working with the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, I had the honor of meeting Eve Ensler.  Eve is a vagina warrior! 

Coastal Voices: Wilson is working for us

Allow me to bring some much-needed clarity to the blurred charges that Sheriff Dean Wilson is stepping beyond his authority and engaging in “political” activities.

In his Jan. 12 letter to the editor, “Wilson should make up his mind: be sheriff or politician,” Richard Wendt called for Sheriff Wilson to “be a politician or the Del Norte County sheriff!” Apparently Mr. Wendt played hooky during his high school civics class. The California Constitution calls for each county to have an elected sheriff, and by definition any elected government official is a “politician.”

 Mr. Wendt admonishes Sheriff Wilson that he “should spend more time being the sheriff than promoting (in uniform or not) your political beliefs.” To the contrary, as chairman of the California State Sheriff’s Association’s Finance Committee, Sheriff Wilson is directed to work “on issues of statewide concern and interest.”  The 700 people who assembled in Yreka gathered for a panel discussion of county sheriffs addressing such issues.

Coastal Voices: Get past the partisanship

While people on the conservative side call out the faults of liberals, as did Marlowe Thompson in his Jan. 21 letter (“Liberals oppose Constitution, Declaration of Independence”), our government cannot be more delighted that we citizens are fighting with one another rather than paying attention to our government.

It is called “divide and conquer.” We are playing right into the hands of those in power to stay there by flaming the fire of our fighting with one another about which party is better, or worse, instead of delving too deeply into how our democracy is being subverted.

On “Bill Moyer’s Journal” on Saturday night, he interviewed David Stockman. He began his career as director of the Office of  Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1985. Stockman was the chief architect of Reagan’s supply-side, or “trickle-down” economic policies, and as Reagan’s budget director he quickly gained a reputation as a tough negotiator and a ruthless cutter of taxes and government spending.

Our View: If we build it, they will stay

Travelers on the coast highway have good reason to stop in Crescent City, but they don’t necessarily know that.

Every day, we lose opportunities to welcome these visitors. Many of them may be inclined to spend a little time and money rather than just passing through — if they’re enlightened about the area’s attractions and amenities.

That’s what makes the proposal for an Interagency Visitor Center right on the highway at the harbor’s edge such an attractive concept. More than attractive, actually. Downright crucial for the economic future of an area dependent on tourism.

Editor's Note: Sometimes, fan loyalty has its limits

After a decade of being mediocre or worse, the San Francisco 49ers are one win away from the Super Bowl.

In a Carmel bar Saturday afternoon, I found out just how much of a 49ers fan I am. San Francisco and New Orleans traded late-game touchdowns in a classic playoff game. It wasn’t a wild sports bar setting; more a red wine Monterey County crowd, but there was excitement for the exploits of the red and gold.

At crunch time, I found myself rooting for the Saints. The lady on the next stool was taken aback at first. Then I explained that my fantasy football playoff team had three New Orleans players and no 49ers. She was obviously well-heeled – her escort was the sort to tie a sweater around his neck like a scarf — and the capitalist in her accepted my explanation as I spoke for fantasy team owners and sports bettors everywhere:

Our View: Sheriff’s politics intriguing, confusing

The political evolution of Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson is intriguing, and in some cases confusing.

Intriguing because a high-profile law enforcement officer is openly staking out partisan political positions, on the job. Confusing because some of those stands seem to have little to do with law enforcement, and yet he contends that he wouldn’t be doing his job as sheriff if he wasn’t addressing them.

Wilson’s contention that the federal government has been heavy-handed and obtrusive in its dealings with local jurisdictions such as Del Norte County may resonate with a lot of local residents. While there are nearly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats here, this is a conservative electorate that supported McCain over Obama even while the latter was winning the presidency in a landslide in 2008.

Our View: No teacher left behind

Del Norte County’s public schools are not as good as they can be, but educators and community members are taking important steps to change that.

The shortcomings have been well-documented, the desired improvements well-spoken and the possible models for reform well-researched.

By next fall, plans call for versions of education reform that have worked elsewhere to be implemented here. That will likely include a heavy emphasis on professional learning communities — in which instructors collaborate in a more organized fashion on what to teach and how to teach it — and some possible forays into individualized learning that blurs the lines between grade levels so that students are grouped more by ability than by age.

Editor's Note: A portal to faraway lands

I came home from work Tuesday evening and walked into the middle of a miracle.

Laura was at the computer, peeking through a portal to Colorado Springs where our 7-month-old grandson was getting a bath, in real time, right then, cooing and splashing the water.

Not only could we see the sights and hear the sounds, when we piped up with grandparental input, Aiden looked up at us!

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