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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!

Coastal Voices: Too late to save Golden State?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some 40,000 new laws took effect across the 50 states Jan. 1.

California leads the nation is passing arguably the most absurd of these laws. The Assembly, State Senate and Gov. Jerry Brown defy comprehension.

Among the thousands of California laws passed in 2011, California leads the pack with its composite head in the toilet mentality. Here are a few of the inane laws which specifically address lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Californians. Disabled are also included in this group, though I am not sure why those who are physically challenged are lumped into a sexual classification.

Editor's Note: Sun was great, now let it rain

That old expression, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” doesn’t necessarily apply to the four weeks of sunshine we enjoyed on the coast while many inland areas experienced Del Norte’s more natural state: fogged up or clouded over.

Most of us instantly appreciated the rareness of the dry streak that began in late November and pretty much ran until Christmas Day. We could pretend we were getting used to it, but all that blue sky was lighting up a North Coast dependent on different weather for its lushness.

Still, this week’s return of soaking rains does make those meteorological memories all the more special. Our beaches are remote even during tourist season, but in late fall they’re downright private. Strolling the consistently sunny sand, it was hard not to muse, “If only the inlanders knew what’s going on here.”

Coastal Voices: Tsunamis, Secretariat and coming home

Christmas is many things to many people. This year, I find myself one block south and down to ground level from last, yet I still hear my muse of the channel horn barking and feel pressed to write.

The melancholy sadness I have come to associate with the “holidays” began seeping in this afternoon, with thoughts of Mom and Pop’s going across the bar, taking me back in time, many years ago, when I would be driving the 12 hours home from college in Kentucky, through the snow, to find the Christmas lights adorning my home in north New Jersey, with my family and Spike all waiting up after midnight for my arrival. All ghosts, shrouded in misty memory, so long ago, yet yesterday. Seemingly gone forever.

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