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Letters to the Editor Aug. 25, 2009

Thanks to the community for making festival so much fun!

Would like to thank the community of Smith River for making the Smith River festival so much fun! The weather was perfect. The parade grand marshal and California’s Classified Employee of the Year, Eliana Hillebrand, and the Smith River School basketball champions, were fun to wave to.

The Smith River Volunteer Fire Department put on a great breakfast. The vendors had fun things to buy and eat. Terry, manager of Ray's Food Place, was supportive as always. Ray’s did a great job of sponsoring the shopping cart races with Colleen Luttrell winning the Best Decorated.

Then came the exciting (you have to be there to believe it) Lawn Mower Races, where Tod and his hot rod mower made us other contestants look like we were standing still! I’m pretty sure Jack is looking for a rematch next year.

And the Smith River Fire Department took back the “Water-Ball” trophy from the Fort Dick Fire Department!

Thank you CASA of Del Norte for helping get this started, and to the Smith River Heritage Association for wanting to keep our community together. A big thank-you to all the volunteers who make it possible.

Carolyn Westbrook

Smith River

Facts found by the grand jury show a real conflict of interest

Regarding the Aug. 21 article, “State panel: no conflict for Barnts” and previous coverage of the Del Norte County Grand Jury’s annual report, the grand jury did an excellent job of fact-finding, instead of the usual whitewash. It is astounding that they let the city off the hook by just calling it an “appearance of conflict” on the part of Public Works Director Jim Barnts.

I can only surmise that someone must have misled the grand jury into mistakenly thinking that “conflict of interest” deals only with local conflicts and matters within the city boundary.

But the duty of city officials to be free of conflict is not just a matter of a code or disclosing interests. It’s people not making or participating in  decisions if they have any a special financial interest in the outcome.

I have not seen the inquiry or the response from the state Fair Political Practices Commission. It may have been limited to the local code, or the  FPPC may have simply agreed with the grand jury that the city code was too ambiguous. That is far from an endorsement of the city's behavior as to the wastewater project.

I couldn’t find “conflict of interest” on the city’s Web site, but Google found California FPPC and related regs, including FPPC reg. 18730, which says: “The requirements of a conflict of interest code are in addition other requirements of the Political Reform Act, such as the general general prohibition against conflicts contained in Government Code section  87100 and to other state or local codes.”

Gov. Sec. 87100 says, “No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a government in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”

It specifically says that it does not exempt any persons from any other provisions of Title 9 of the code.

Sec. 87102 says that 87100 is in addition to any Conflict of Interest codes. Sec.87105 says that the person must publicly disclose his financial interest in sufficient detail to be understood by the public. There are no exceptions for the City Council knowing or not caring.

The facts found by the grand jury clearly show a real breach of conflict rules or that, like they all say,  “There ain’t no law north of the Klamath.”

Jack (John M.) Burlake

   Crescent City

Bewildered and sickened by release of Libyan terrorist

W.H. Auden once wrote, “A poet can write about a man’s slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.”

I watched the triumphant return of Libyan terrorist and convicted murderer of 270 innocent men, women and children Ali al-Megrahi, to the cheering throngs of his countrymen, blind to Auden’s words or spirit.

I know not what bewilders, indeed sickens, me worse — the jubilation of the crowds on the Tripoli airport tarmac or the tortured “compassionate” grounds upon which Scotland released him — the malignancy of each far more wretched than that eating away inside its heralded host.

The sod o’er William Wallace’s grave must be rotted yellow with shame. 


Jon M. Alexander

Crescent City



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