Monday, December 31, 2012

Progressive Women's Committee - Thurs Jan 3


The Progressive Women's Committee will meet on Thursday, January 3, 2013, 11:30 a.m. at Thomi's Banquet Room in Jackson.

The speaker for January will be Karen Dickerson of the Amador Learning Center.

The buffet luncheon is $15.00 which includes an entree, salad, vegetarian offering,  various drinks, coffee, tea, dessert, tax and tip.  Pay at the door -  cash (the exact amount is appreciated) or personal check only.  For reservations, RSVP  to Sally at trestrail@gotsky.com no later than Tuesday, January 1st.  (Sooner If Possible!)

Note:  If you make a reservation and cannot attend please call  Sally at 267-0177, to cancel, by Wednesday at noon.  You may be billed for the luncheon if you do not show up and have not canceled.

Presentation: "The True Cost of Oil" - Sat Jan 12


“THE TRUE COST OF OIL”
 SHAPE  \* MERGEFORMAT 
Syncrude Upgrader and Tar Sands

Based on Garth Lenz’ award-winning TED talk, and using images produced over two decades,  HYPERLINK "http://www.garthlenz.com/#/touring-exhibit--the-true-cost-of-oil/editorial-42The True Cost of Oil will take viewers on a visual journey across Earth’s largest remaining forest and into the heart of what many claim to be the World’s largest, and most damaging mega-project. From the vast wetlands, forests, rivers and lakes of Canada’s north to the tar mines of northern Alberta, learn why the future of Earth’s third-largest oil reserves and America’s single greatest source of oil effects us all and what we can do to work for a sustainable clean energy future.
This is a presentation you don’t want to miss! Mark your calendar!
You can hear Mr. Lenz and view his amazing photography at the:

WILD AND SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL 1/11-1/13/2013
Saturday, 10:45-11:45am 
in the Activist Center, Nevada City

Saturday, December 22, 2012

PG&E Contract Forces AWA to Maintain Upcountry Pump System

Click below to view link:

http://www.amadorwatchdog.org/minutes/20121213_minutes.html#maintain

Spark’s Christmas Update

Despite the logical, intellectual predictions to the contrary, Spark continues to improve.  It is not the same dejected, hurt little creature out there in my pasture today as was brought here 3 months ago.  His physical appearance as changed completely.  There is a bit more to the story, however.

This Christmas season, perhaps more than others, the thought of being of sound mind is foremost in our thoughts.  If you believe Socrates and Plato, man has the responsibility of maintaining a sound mind and body so that he may achieve his complete potential as a human being. 
The young man that works for me here at the ranch doing chores, picking up poop, feeding and generally helping with the horses was disgruntled.  My new little horse Spark, was making his job much more difficult than the other horses did.  No doubt about it.  Spartacus was a slob.  He pooped where he ate, urinated on top of that.  To make things worse, he trampled back and forth through it all making a muck of huge proportion.  The young man complained to me of this saying that the other horses never walked through their feces and always separated what went in their mouths from what came out the other end. 

I told the young man that, in the wild, stallions are always very neat and tidy.  I explained that a stallion understands his role in the herd as a protector and leader of his family.  To this end, he marks his territory with little towers of poop, which he adds to and maintains quite diligently.  In this way, he communicates with other stallions in the area that they need to be wary should they choose to get too close to his family.   Domesticated stallions maintain that tradition as best they can by always pooping in the same place and leaving it intact as a sign of their presence. 

Unfortunately, I told the young man, Spark’s abusive life had denied him his dignity and self-respect.  It disallowed him the chance to behave as his heritage dictated.  He no longer felt like he was anyone’s protector.  Where he defecated made no difference to him.

One day, a couple of weeks after this conversation between the young man and me, I came home from work and went out, as I always do to see how things were going with his chores.
“Cam! Cam!  Guess what”, the young man hollered at me as I approached.
“What?”  I asked.
“Spark has put all his poop in 2 very neat piles!”  He said.
In that regard, Spark’s behavior has not changed.

Merry Christmas and peace be with you.
Cam Marker
dandilyon@zetabroadband.com



















Friday, December 7, 2012

Amador Water Agency Accounting Still Inaccurate

Amador Water Agency Accounting Still Inaccurate
Amador Water Agency (AWA) staff took 8 months to produce adjustments to correct illegal accounting at AWA. On November 29, the public, who identified the illegal comingling of funds back in March, once again found fatal errors, leaving AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo no choice but to tell the Board he would need more time to resolve the problems.   In five weeks, the Board held two Board meetings and two committee meetings to review the adjustments for accuracy. At the second Budget Finance committee meeting, directors Bob Manassero and Art Toy ignored accounting problems that the public presented and agreed to recommend that the AWA Board move to accept the cash balances as presented.   At the November 29 meeting, RPA members Debbie Dunn and Bill Condrashoff presented written documentation of the errors. They warned the Board that following staff recommendation to approve the adjustments would put their local reputations at risk as it wrongly manufactured new debt against the ratepayers.   Although agendized as “discussion with possible action”, Mancebo changed the agenda to a “review and discussion only” item. He then requested a head nod from the Board to deliver the adjustments to the auditing firm for final reporting. He suggested that their approval by vote was not needed and that he could make the changes in the normal course of business. When this matter was first brought before the Board on October 25, the public showed that staff’s figures had problems. The Board referred the matter to the Budget Finance committee for a recommendation. The committee required two meetings, because, once again, staff did not present consistent figures, and eventually recommended that the full Board approve the adjustments.   The adjustments involved allocating more than $10 million of expenses between current ratepayers and new customers. The changes were supposed to clear up discrepancies between the 2010-2011 annual audit and the Government Code 66013 financial reports. At a meeting in March 2012, the Board was forced to reject the audit because of inaccuracies that were still not resolved.   There are several problems with the adjustments. The biggest issue is that AWA will maximize costs to ratepayers after the fact, in order to minimize the cost to developers. Instead of using funds that were collected from new customers to reimburse ratepayers for their prior investments, AWA is planning to “adjust” their accounting to use the funds to benefit developers instead. If AWA uses the funds to pay for more capacity, it will leave far less money to maintain and replace the existing system and give reason for higher rates than would otherwise be needed. Using ratepayer funds to expand the systems will significantly lower the cost for future development.   Dunn stated that financial decisions made by Board members over the last 8 years would likely have been different had these adjusted account balances indicating additional debt been known. Condrashoff reminded the Board that “Government Code 66013 requires that connection fees be used solely for the purpose for which they are collected.” Mancebo disagreed with Condrashoff, and since the Board was leaving the decision in Mancebo’s hands, there was no further Board discussion on that topic. The problem that ultimately sent Mancebo back to the drawing board came up when the Board moved to the next topic: how to record internal loans that have been made over the years, but never documented. Dunn commented, “If you know the accounting is wrong or even suspect now, then there is no 'fix' later." Dunn also offered that straitening out only two accounts (replacement reserves and restricted reserves), as AWA staff wanted to do, would lead to more changes and thus more interfund loans. She suggested that all accounts be reconciled to be sure additional issues did not arise later. Condrashoff added that there were several negative account balances, and that AWA’s auditor advises that AWA cannot have negative account balances.   Mancebo stated that since no restricted funds were being used to fund the negative balances, there would not be a problem, but he was apparently speaking without benefit of having examined the actual books. Condrashoff returned to the podium and addressed the Board, saying “This is not possible." He explained that one account had a $2.8 million negative balance. If restricted funds were not used, then there was simply not enough funds in all the other accounts to cover the $2.8 million.   Controller Marvin Davis went back into his office to verify if Condrashoff was correct. The Board addressed all other agenda items and Davis had still not returned. Mancebo advised the Board that he would bring the discussion back after further investigation.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Update on the horse, Spartacus

 
The last time I was moved to write about Spartacus was about 2 weeks after my neighbor had found him.  There he was, a small Azteca horse, skinny, hungry, injured and abandoned along side a rural road not far from my home.  That was two months ago.  Thanksgiving has just passed and there is at least one small thing for which the community of Amador County can be thankful.  Spark is coming along.

I have formally adopted Spartacus (nickname, Spark) from Amador County.  Unofficially, the whole county and beyond have taken him to heart. 
So many people have given their time, money, resources and good wishes that I am certain that Spark had little choice but to improve.  And we must not forget Spark’s own rather sizable indomitable spirit.  The only being oblivious to how devastatingly injured he has been is Spark himself.  He just carries on.  It was my lucky day when he stepped into my horse trailer and found his way to my heart. 

In the last 8 weeks Spark has done a lot of eating, sleeping, controlled walking and gaining strength.  He has begun to make his way into the “herd” of six other horses here at my ranch.  Always, however, his socialization involves a fence between him and the others.  As far as he has come, he has only just begun.  He is still too weak and unstable especially on his badly torn right hind leg stifle joint to be safe in a herd.  Still. He can lie down and get up.  He can roll all the way over from one side to the other and get up.  He can walk (but he still looks pretty odd), he can trot, he can gallop.  And he actually threw a bit of a buck yesterday because he wasn’t as close to the girls as he thought he should be.  Oh, and did I mention that he can eat?  Well, he can eat.  He has gained over 100 lbs. since coming to the ranch. Spark loves attention and totally enjoys people.  People do come second to mares, but that is understandable, I guess.
Since he has been here, Spark has had his teeth floated been fed, x-rayed, vaccinated, dewormed, ultra-sounded, shod, bathed and vacuumed (yes, I said vacuumed.)

Spark remains patient and calm.  He does carry constant pain.  We are now in the process of trying to figure out how much pain he has and what we need to do about that. 
Philosophers have long debated the meaning and quality of life.  Those of us caring for Spark are not philosophers, but the quality of his life is important and we are constantly aware that the degree to which Spark must carry the legacy of his abuse ranks high on our list as we try to rehabilitate his body.  To this point, his journey has been pretty steadily forward.  It has only been 8 weeks.  He has gained a lot of ground.

Mending Spark is sort of like building a house.  At first, everything seems to go fast and easy.  In a short time, the house LOOKS like a house, but it is useless and unfinished inside.  Then, the finish work that makes the house useful and functional begins and people wonder what is taking so long, for nothing seems to be happening.  Then finally, there must be people and love in the house to make the house a home.  Spark will need a lot of finish work and a lot of love for a long time.  He is off to a very good start.  And he gives back way more than he gets.  That’s because he’s a horse.

I’m including a couple of pictures with this article.  I hope they truly are worth 1000 words.  I am very thankful to be in so caring a community. 

Cam Marker
dandilyon@zetabroadband.com





Monday, November 19, 2012

Update on the horse, Spark

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: I received this email thread from those interested in the welfare of the horse, Spark. Please read and let me know however I can help in this cause. I don't have the Word attachment as is referenced, but if you can contact those involved, please do.

As always, in Amador County's interests,

Carol Harper, Editor
NewsAmador.com



Hello all,

I have decided to have Tom Mayes assess Spark to begin therapy to  rehab him.  He wanted some information about Spark, so I composed some  thoughts and sent them on.  This will also serve to help you all know  where I am with him and what he is trying to heal, so I'm sending it  to you as well.  It's kinda wordy, but I wanted to be accurate and  thorough.

Cam Marker
dandilyon@zetabroadband.com

P. S.  The document is in Word.  I hope you all can open it...

Please keep us posted.  He looks so very much better under your caring hands!  We are still getting in small donations.  At our next meeting on 12/5, I should have a total for you.  Do you have any idea of the cost of the gelding? 

Thanks,
Susan Manning
feedbarn@volcano.net

Hello Susan,
I will try to keep you updated on Spark.  Vicki came yesterday and floated his teeth, gave him the last of his vaccines  (rabies)), and generally checked him out.  She said he looks good and to try to exercise him a bit as she wants him to try to gain some muscle on his top line.  I am a bit afraid to exercise him much because his back right leg is still pretty weak.  But I am going to try to walk hills and increase his daily workout time a bit.  I haven't ever seen him trot, but am working up to asking him for one in the round pen to see if he can do it.

He is beginning to show more personality.  He is a gentle, patient soul, but does have a "spark" of determination which I do love.  He does present some puzzles and some unanswered questions which Vicki and I will work on.  When I take him to UCD, I am going to try to get a neurologic evaluation because we are wondering if there is some nerve damage in his pelvic area.  Vicki want that done prior to the surgery.

I have gotten a quote of between $600.00 and $1800.00 for the surgery and the neurologic eval, depending on how involved the surgery is. Vicki talked to UCD and was quoted $900.00 for the surgery.  She also said they were our cheapest option, but now she is going to talk with them again because she wants to talk to a neurologist that she says is very good there. Vicki did say that he is well enough now to have the surgery and the fact that he can get up and down on his own is a big plus.  I have received $1150.00 in donations personally, all of which I have put into an account for Spark's surgery.  Things like his teeth and supplements and vaccines and such I am covering myself.  My goal is to have the $1800.00 on hand when I go to UCD.  It will be great to know what A-Pal has for him!!!

Meanwhile, Spark is beginning to show an interest in the girls. Right now, he is behaving himself because I have him near a mare that has no interest in him whatsoever, and lets him know that in no uncertain terms. A little down home education never hurt anybody....but I will feel better when this stallion-thing is no longer an issue.
More later,
Cam Marker
dandilyon@zetabroadband.com

AWA Accounting Adjustments Expose $6 Million Omission

Click on the link below to view release:
http://www.amadorwatchdog.org/minutes/20121025_minutes.html

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Over Troubled Waters" to show in Sierra foothill premiere, panel discussion follows

On Friday, November 30, the acclaimed film, Over Troubled Waters, will have its central Sierra premiere at the Sutter Creek Theater on Main Street, Sutter Creek. The 7:30 pm showing will be followed by a Q&A panel discussion with Delta experts. The event is sponsored by the Foothill Conservancy.

In this visually rich documentary, Ed Begley Jr. narrates the story of how the people of the Delta are fighting to protect the region they love and to encourage saner, sustainable water policies for all the people of California in the face of calls for huge tunnels to move more water south.

“The peripheral tunnel issue has huge implications for the Sierra foothills, rivers and water policy,” said Foothill Conservancy Vice-President Pete Bell. “Since our local rivers feed the Delta, decisions made about its future will affect us as well. We’re sponsoring this showing and panel to help local people better understand what’s at stake.”

The short film will be followed by a Q&A panel discussion with Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, which produced the documentary, and Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

“This film is our chance to tell the real Delta story,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “This film reveals how powerful forces are using fear of flooding and earthquakes to make a case for transforming a unique, beautiful, productive region into a permanent way station for water going somewhere else. They are trying to shore up an outdated water system with a massive, multi-billion dollar water transfer project that Californians will be paying for decades.”

Over Troubled Waters was selected as a participant in the 9th Annual Artivist Film Festival, held earlier this month in Hollywood. Early next year, it will be shown in the respected Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City.

All are welcome to attend this special event. A $5 donation is suggested at the door, but not required for admission.

For more information on the event, contact Randy Berg at randy@foothillconservancy.org or call 209-295-4900. To see a trailer of the film, see www.overtroubledwaters.org.

'Murder in the Foothills' published

After nearly six months of investigation, journalist Raheem F. Hosseini and myself have finally published 'Murder in the Foothills' in Sacramento News & Review. It's the story of a slaying in Amador County, with ties to West Point and Middle East, that has NEVER been told until now:

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/murder-in-the-foothills/content?oid=8291900

Also, the Kindle e-book edition of "Shadow People" - my investigation into meth & crime in America - just came out today. It's $2.99 at Amazon.com and can be read on Kindle, Kindle Fire and most smart phones and Ipads with the Kindle app.

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-People-meth-driven-America-ebook/dp/B009XG596M/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1352387993&sr=1-2

Scott Thomas Anderson    standerson1@live.com

"Not in our Backyards" - 94 year old decorated Veteran leads charge for neighboring ranchers, files environmental lawsuit against Amador County, developers and Silicon Valley venture capital firm to stop new strip mine and asphalt plant

Ione, California, Nov 7, 2012 - A lawsuit has been filed against Amador County, developers and a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, citing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) violations over the planned construction of a new strip mine and hot asphalt plant in close proximity to ranches and homes in the rural county.  The Ione Valley Land, Air& Water Defense Alliance LLC (Ione Valley LAWDA – www.ionevalleylawda.com) was founded by 94-year old Col. Fraser West, a decorated WWII US Marines Corps veteran, cowboy and rancher, and his daughter Sondra West-Moore. The project in question, Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center North Asphalt plant, is backed by William “Bill” Bunce of Newman Minerals, his partner John Telischak and San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management. The project is one of a number of environmentally questionable activities that the developer is seeking to push through local county government, despite opposition from locals as well as international attention.  The LAWDA lawsuit seeks to overturn the Amador County Board of Supervisors’ decision to rezone a portion of the area from residential/ agriculture to Heavy Industrial. The suit also seeks to overturn the County certification of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), citing many inadequately addressed CEQA requirements, omissions and misinformation given to the public. The 50-year project, if allowed to proceed, will permanently affect public health, air quality, water quality, traffic levels and noise for neighboring ranchers and the agricultural way of life for the entire Ione Valley.

“It’s beautiful ranching country, the peace and quiet of this land is…you can’t put a price on it,” said Colonel West. The planned strip mine is located on Newman Ridge, an untouched 287-acre, 500’ ridge on the historic Howard Ranch, which cradles the Ione Valley. The ridge is an ideal area for open space conservation, providing 360-degree views of rolling grasslands including 200 year-old oaks and the entire Sierra foothills. Bald and golden eagles, bobcats, migrating Canada geese by the thousands, deer, white egrets and blue herons, wild turkeys, Swainson’s hawks, rare frogs and salamanders, raccoons and badgers populate the untouched environment. West’s ranch sits on the bottom slope of Newman Ridge, literally feet from the planned quarry, and downwind from the planned asphalt plant, which would sprawl over another 114 acres.

West’s granddaughter, major label recording artist Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy (www.afinefrenzy.com) is the US Ambassador for The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); http://www.iucn.org/about/union/iucn_ambassadors/alison_sudol/ and joins the opposition:  “The quarry and asphalt plant will permanently destroy a beautiful area of countryside teeming with wildlife. It's a place with tremendous value for visitors and locals alike. The world is expanding faster and faster these days; we should be focused on conserving our open spaces while we still have them.”   West-Moore notes: “The developers and venture capital investors behind this project don’t live in the area, so they don’t care if their project poisons the Ione Valley, and never explored the quality and county revenues an open space park could provide.”

Several California state agencies including CalTrans, the Department of Conservation’s Office of Mine Reclamation, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the California Department of Fish and Game have expressed deep concerns with the adequacy of the EIR and recommended against the county certification. Chief among the problems are known cancer-causing toxins that would be unleashed into the air over Ione Valley. The project group admits that the mine and plant would emit over 100 tons per year of nitrous oxides (NOx) and 152 tons per year of particulate matters (PM10.) Particulate matters are known to adversely affect human health and also have impacts on climate and precipitation.

The Foothill Conservancy, a local conservation organization, http://www.foothillconservancy.org, submitted letters to the County, citing numerous environmental concerns. TakePart.com, a pro-social media organization, covered the story in depth: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/10/03/not-my-backyard-94-year-old-retired-marine-corps-colonel-fights-strip-mine.

At the Board of Supervisors’ appeal hearing on the EIR certification, more than three dozen local families spoke directly to the Board, expressing deep concern and disbelief about how their questions regarding the project and air, water quality, noise, environmental damage and traffic issues had been left unanswered. An opposition petition signed by 364 people (as of October 9th, signatures number 418 to date) with detailed comments from both local and international citizens (http://signon.org/sign/no-on-newman-ridge-quarry) was presented to the County during the public hearing. The appeal was denied by the Board of Supervisors, leaving a lawsuit as the only recourse left for opponents. Ione Valley LAWDA maintains that the project is environmentally disastrous, violates numerous CEQA provisions, misled the public with omitted or inaccurate information, is a danger to public health and is unnecessary to the local economy as other established quarries satisfy regional demand for mining products and asphalt.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mark Bennett - Outside the Ivory Tower: Taking Back our Freedoms, Resources and Prosperity

Who really has jurisdiction over so-called Federal Lands in our counties? What is a constitutional
county? Do we have rights, in some cases going back to the Magna Carta, that allow us to take back our county –our freedoms, resources, prosperity? Learn about this and many other topics from people who not only have “new” ideas, but from those who are doing it now in several Western counties. This is the winning strategy. It’s called Defend Rural America and its coming to Amador County this Saturday, November 3th at the Sutter Creek Auditorium at 2 pm. Check them out at: (http://
www.defendruralamerica.com/DRA/Home.html)

How bad is the current situation and how strongly do I think that we need to move and to move immediately? Since the financial crisis of 2008 we have had a slow recovery of about 1.5 to 2% economic growth (GDP). But 83% of that increase in economic growth has been inflation. Actually, less goods have been sold but at higher prices. Translating from Washingtonspeak, there is not only no economic growth, but we are all being further squeezed with higher prices.

Since Obama took office the amount of Federal government debt owned by the Federal Reserve Bank has increased 452%. It now buys 61% of all Treasury debt. So it is printing money that is essentially worthless except for the belief in “the full faith and credit of the US Government”. If that belief ever falters, our money becomes truly worthless. An event overseas, perhaps with a trading partner like China, could become the catalyst for questioning the value of the US dollar.

The rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, tell us that municipal bonds are safe, despite the recently publicized bankruptcies. Yet a current study by the New York Fed “found between 35 and 50 times more municipal defaults over the past few decades than rating agencies have reported.” About 51% of municipal bonds are purchased by middle class Americans because of their income tax exemptions. Nearly one third of the $10 billion one year bills California sold, the largest municipal debt deal of the year, were bought by individual investors. Collateral for those bonds is the taxing power of California. Even in our current state budget, for whatever value you assign its tricks and realities, projected sales tax revenue is down 33 %. Several major municipal defaults could further weaken the middle class with an unknown affect on the balance of political power.

Many media report that the economy is getting better because consumer debt is now a lower percent
of personal income. However, the total amount of consumer debt is unchanged. The other personal
income is going to basics, like gasoline and food, at inflated prices as noted earlier. It is only artificially
low interest rates that are allowing us to make our debt payments. Low interest rates benefit borrowers,
the largest being the US government. A 1% increase in interest rates would add $100 billion to the
federal deficit and cause the Federal Reserve to have a $150 billion capital deficit because of its holding
of Federal and related debt.

We have 1.1 law enforcement officers and firefighters and over 1.2 tax preparers according to the FacetheFactsUSA website. After reading that statistic I realized that my income tax preparation expense was equal to over 25% of my property tax bill! This is just one of the endless examples of what economists call “misappropriated resources”. We have 5 % of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners at an annual taxpayer cost of over $63 billion a year. While this is due to a variety of reasons, including the general decline of society, many people are incarcerated for simply standing up for freedom. Presently serving time is someone who violated the zoning code with bible study classes in their home and another who collected rainwater on his property. Please remember that our pending General Plan asserts that the water falling on our properties belongs to the Valley Aquifer and that we should all convert to surface water (rivers) and construct expensive new systems.

Despite all this doom and gloom, we in Amador County are truly blessed. Sutter Gold Mining recently announced the discovery of two new gold bearing veins. Reading between the lines of their press release, it seems very little of the Mother Lode has been explored and almost none with modern technology. Underground miners make $17 to $26 an hour depending upon their skill level. The industry’s mean annual wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $46,980. Will we have to wait through another eight years of environmental delays for mine expansion? Or can environmental review be approved, as in Canada, in a year and a half?

Be there this Saturday, November 3th, at the Sutter Creek Auditorium at 2 pm. Your future and that of our county and nation are in danger. And while the economy is critical, it is the soul of America that is at stake.

Copyright 2012, Mark L. Bennett

Monday, October 29, 2012

Outside the Ivory Tower: 42 Roads and the New Forest

Outside the Ivory Tower: 42 Roads and the New Forest - By Mark Bennett
Also posted at: http://markbennett1.blogspot.com/

In 1066 the Norman French conquered England. William the Conqueror seized an area of land for his private preserve known as the New Forest. Despite having been inhibited since pre-historic times, most of the residents were evicted. They now lived under a European import called Forest Law, contrary to the Common Law tradition of the Celtic and Saxon citizens. “Forest Law imposed a kingdom within a kingdom, where the few inhabitants were subjected to draconian laws to preserve, increase and protect game of all species . . . a Forest is land subject to special laws.” William’s son “William Rufus is supposed to haveincreased the severity of penalties for flouting Forest Law - death and mutilation apparently the penalties for interference with the King's deer…Rufus was killed in the Forest by an arrow; he was probably murdered.” Rufus was followed by Henry I who, at his coronation “issued a Charter promising to modify or abolish the excesses of Forest Law. In fact he maintained the system and increased its efficiency. He used it to his pecuniary advantage by extracting financial penalties for misdemeanors.” (All the above quotes are from http://www.newforest.hampshire.org.uk/history1.html)

Many people say history repeats itself, while others say it merely rhymes. But you can see for yourself if the imposition of European land use upon the British almost a thousand years ago seems like the current policies in our National Forests on Monday, October 29th at the Jackson Civic Center from 3 to 8 pm. They will be discussing the status of 42 travel routes in the El Dorado National Forest.

The website of the Forest Service abounds with information about their activity, however, older material seems to vanish or is hard to find. Despite road closures and other policies to keep us ordinary folks out, the National Forest abounds in human activity. I have read about 10 or so projects in the El Dorado National Forest over the past year. While their site gives details of the projects, the price tag is conspicuously missing. I decided to find out for myself and emailed the Forest Service about just one project. Their prompt and courteous reply informed me that the Indian Valley Restoration Project “is estimated at about $200,000.” So this summer’s local environmental extravagances with our tax dollars (or borrowings from the Chinese) probably total at least a million dollars.

The Indian Valley Restoration Project involves “ three quarters of a mile of a tributary stream of Indian Creek using a series of plug and ponds to enhance habitat for yellow- legged frogs, Yosemite toad, willow fly catcher” and others. Note that plugging meets bringing in boulders from the Silver Lake area, presumably by sufficient capacity vehicles. And note the word enhance. Many within the Forest Service and in the proposal’s public comments stated that the project was unnecessary. But given the current thrust of the Forest Service and the pressure of various environmental groups, projects such as this proceed. (The above information and quote were taken from the Forest Service website)

So next time you struggle to meet your bills and wonder why your taxes are so high, please remember how cute the yellow-legged frog is and how much you love them. Some people apparently love them because they could become an important new constituency in our land use decisions. Don’t miss this opportunity to talk to our Forest Service on Monday, October 29th from 3 to 8 pm at the Jackson Civic Center

Copyright 2012, Mark L. Bennett

Friday, October 26, 2012

Via RPA: AWA Fails to Give Notice of Upcountry Property Tax

  • AWA Fails to Give Notice of Upcountry Property Tax On September 24th, the AWA Board voted to notice their intent to form a Mello-Roos special tax assessment district to pay for the Gravity Supply Line (GSL). However, AWA did not give the required notice for the October 25th hearing date, and the Board did not hold the hearing as planned. On October 11th, consultant SCI reported to the Board that several properties were mistakenly left out of the Community Facilities District (CFD) boundaries. SCI also discussed changing the tax rate method of apportionment approved by the board just two weeks earlier. The consultant suggested removing some unimproved properties and reducing the tax on other unimproved properties. The reduction in tax to unimproved properties will require increasing the tax rate to all other properties. If AWA changes the tax rates, AWA will again need to schedule a meeting to notice the intent to form the CFD. The Board is required to hold a hearing at least 30 days after passing a resolution of intent. If AWA does this, we will keep you posted and inform you where to find protest forms. Related Story
  • AWA Board Pulls Rate Increase Notice at Last Minute While discussing changes to the Upcountry CFD, the public pointed out that the rate notice slated to go out the next day had information about the CFD that may change. Board secretary Cris Thompson reported that the notices had been printed, but not mailed, thus the mailing of an inaccurate rate increase notice had been averted. However, 7,000 copies of the 6-page notice, the envelope, and possibly the postage are now slated for the recycle bin because the rate hearing date on the notice is now obsolete. The rate notices will need to be reprinted, stuffed into envelopes and stamped at ratepayer expense.
  • Directors Farrington and Thomas Recommend Unconstitutional Policy Changes AWA’s Policy Committee, including directors Rich Farrington and Gary Thomas, sent their recommendations for new meeting decorum policy to the Board. The policy contained restrictions that would not allow handing out literature or displaying signs during the meeting. Members of the public complained that the policy was restricting first amendment constitutional rights to free speech. Two board members felt that the current policy did not need to be changed. However, director Farrington persisted in attempting to convince other board members that the changes were needed to restore order in the board room. The policy changes were sent back to Farrington and Thomas for further committee review.
    1. To view this article online, visit:
      http://www.amadorwatchdog.org/minutes/20121011_minutes.html#tax

      Wednesday, October 24, 2012

      SCBPA: Vote YES on Measure Q!




      Amador County Chamber of Commerce, Amador Coucil of Tourism, and the Sutter Creek Business and Professional Association - supports Measure Q, This measure will help Amador County create new tourism that will support local jobs - at no cost to local residents. 

      California State Legislature has enacted California Revenue and Tax Code Section 7280, which authorizes the County to levy a transient (tourists) occupancy tax (TOT), commonly known as a "hotel tax" and sets forth the parameters and exemptions regarding hotel taxes.

      Amador County Code Section 3.16.030 currently establishes a six per cent (6%) tax for the privilege of occupancy in any hotel by a transient (tourist) within the County. The cities of Jackson, Sutter Creek and Ione are currently collecting a ten percent (10%) hotel tax.  The Board of Supervisors of Amador County desires to submit to the voters of the County a measure to increase the hotel tax to ten percent (10%) within the County to be consistent with the hotel tax imposed by the cities of Jackson, Sutter Creek and Ione.

      Thank you for voting YES.

      --
      Regards,
      Lisa Klosowski
      Director: Sutter Creek Visitor Center
      (209) 267-1344

      TSPN INTERVIEW: Jim Gullett, Chairman of the Yes on Measure Q Committee

      Tom Slivick talks with Jim Gullett, Chairman of the Yes on Measure Q Committee.
      http://tspntv.com/home/item/19572-tspn-tv-news-in-depth-jim-gullett-10-19-12

      Tom Slivick talks with Jim Gullett about what benefits Measure Q could bring to Amador County if the measure passes in the November election.
      http://tspntv.com/home/item/19571-tspn-tv-news-in-depth-benefits-of-measure-q-10-19-12

      Tuesday, October 23, 2012

      From District 1 Supervisor John Plasse regarding OHV trails/roads

       We need to all show up and at the Jackson Civic Center on Oct. 29th between 3 and 8 PM (or other locations shown in this press release) and let the new Forest Supervisor Kathy Hardy know how important reopening these OHV trails and roads are to all of us. They not only provide us, the public, access to our public lands, but they are also vital to the local high country economy. Many businesses, from quick stop gas stations to campgrounds and restaurants, benefit from the OHV based tourism that travels the Highway 88 corridor.

      Forest Supervisor Hardy has told me directly that her proposed action is to amend the Forest Plan so that most of these routes can be reopened in as short a time as possible. Given the litigation the USFS routinely faces from environmental groups, and even their own employees, she needs all the public comment in support of that action she can get!

      So please get the word out and let the US Forest Service know that we feel that public lands belong to the public at large and are for all of us to enjoy in the manner we chose. Claims that OHV's would cause some irreparable environmental harm to grassy areas that our great-grandfathers traversed in steel wheeled wagons and carts are just bogus. I know we weren't listened to by the USFS ideologues of the past, but let's give the new Supervisor the benefit of the doubt and the chance to write her own legacy. Thanks for your support.

      John Plasse
      Supervisor, District 1
      (209) 223-6491 Office
      (209) 481-3732 Cell
      jplasse@amadorgov.org

      Friday, October 19, 2012

      Letter to the Editor: Amador Fire Protection District Board & Chief Support the GSL


      The Amador Fire Protection District Board of Directors and Fire Chief Jim McCart have endorsed the Amador Water Agency’s proposed Gravity Supply Line as the best option to replace the failing pumping system that gets water from the Mokelumne River to the upcountry public water system.

      AFPD President Boitano and Chief McCart say, in their October 12th letter to the Amador Water Agency, “Looking at the effects on and benefits to fire protection services, from the two options being considered, the construction of a gravity supply line would enhance our firefighting efforts to control and extinguish a fire.”

      The upcountry water system serves about 3,500 customers and 544 Fire Hydrants. President Boitano and Chief McCart also state, “The proposed gravity supply line will:

      1. Provide a reliable source of water which is not dependent on electricity for delivery. An electrical power outage commonly occurs during a wildfire when there is the greatest demand on water resources to suppress the fire and protect homes and other infrastructure.

      2. Make available a much larger reserve storage of water for fighting fires in the event of a power failure.

      3. Provide a source of water from the proposed fire hydrants on the supply line which will deliver many more gallons per minute than is available from the fire hydrants in the current distribution system.”

      They conclude that “the Amador Fire Protection Board of Directors support the Amador Water Agency’s proposal to construct the gravity supply line.” The letter is signed by both AFPD President Boitano and Fire Chief Jim McCart.


      Rich Farrington
      District 3 Director
      Amador Water Agency

      Friday, October 12, 2012

      Citizens' Groups Challenge Federal Government's Decision at Plymouth, CA

      No Casino In Plymouth (NCIP) and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) have filed an amended complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California challenging the May 30, 2012 decision by Acting Assistant Secretary Of Indian Affairs to take 228.04 acres into trust for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians to build a large Las Vegas style casino in the small Amador County town of Plymouth, California.

      NCIP and CERA assert in their complaint the Department of Interior (DOI), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Office of Indian Gaming (OIG) have not complied with the laws and regulations related to fee to trust for Indian gaming and the decision to take the 228.04 acres into trust is an abuse of discretion, arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the law.

       The suit challenges the authority of the DOI to take land into trust for the Ione Band, challenges the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Report, and challenges the alleged restoration to Federal Recognition of the Ione Band.

      Plaintiffs, NCIP and CERA, maintain that recent Supreme Court decisions in Carcieri, Hawaii, and Patchak weigh entirely in their favor legally and are confident that when the facts of the case are presented a court decision in their favor will permanently end all efforts to take land into trust to build a casino in Plymouth.

      The amended complaint was served on Tuesday, October 9th and is available at nocasinoinplymouth.blogspot.com. Questions or inquiries for additional information can be sent via email to nciplymouth@hotmail.com or by mail to NCIP, P.O. Box 82, Plymouth, Ca. 95669.

      Pine Grove Community Conservation Wildfire Protection Plan - Public Comment Period through Dec 6


      The Amador Fire Safe Council announces the release of the final draft of the Greater Pine Grove Community Conservation Wildfire Protection Plan for public review and comment.  The plan can be found on AFSC's website at:
       
       
      The plan, funded by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, is broken down into easily accessed sections, including an executive summary; risk surveys indexed by street name; home fire safety and protection; recommended fuel reduction projects; conservation elements; defensible space; wildfire ecology and environment; as well as numerous maps outlining fire history and risk in the unit.
       
      The public may comment on this plan until December 6, 2012 when it will be submitted to the agencies for final signature.  Comments may be made in writing to Amador Fire Safe Council, PO Box 1055, Pine Grove, California 95665 or electronically through the comment box on our website or to: amadorfiresafe@gmail.com .

      Thursday, October 11, 2012

      Gabe Gottstein for Amador Water Agency Director, District 3



      Guest Commentary - Supervisor Louis Boitano: Measure U Supports Abatement Of Unsafe, Abandoned Vehicles

       On Nov. 6, Amador County voters will vote on Measure U to continue funding the Amador County Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program for the next 10 years.

      The program is financed through a $1 fee on every vehicle registered in Amador County through the California Department of Motor Vehicles - an additional $2 fee for certain commercial vehicles. The money goes directly to the abatement, removal, or disposal of any abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperable vehicle or part of a vehicle located on private or public property that is considered a public nuisance. Removing abandoned cars prevents Amador County from becoming a junkyard, helps keep children safe, and maintains property values.

      The County's Abandoned Vehicle Authority (AVA) administers the program. Since its inception in 1991, the AVA has removed approximately 3,500 vehicles from our roads. In the 2011-12 fiscal year alone, the AVA ridded 103 vehicles from Amador's streets. The County estimates another 100 vehicles will be eliminated this year with continued funding, raising approximately $46,900 per fiscal year to keep our neighborhoods free of blight caused by abandoned vehicles.

      Collection of the AVA Fee will continue only if Measure U is approved by a two-thirds majority of qualified voters. Voting "yes" approves the fee. A "no" vote would end the program.

      Yes on Measure U is supported by the Amador County Board of Supervisors, City of Amador City, City of Ione, City of Jackson, City of Plymouth, and the City of Sutter Creek. The AVA benefits all of us - in cities and the unincorporated areas of the County - by providing resources local governments need to deal with abandoned vehicles and keep our communities safe.

      Please vote Yes on Measure U. For more information, call District 4 Supervisor Louis Boitano at (209) 223-6470.

      Monday, October 8, 2012

      Via Citizen Report: Coalition Rally - Fri Oct 19

      NO on 32   YES on 30
      Teachers and School employees
      Friday October 19, 2012
      4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
      Highway 49, in front of MacDonald's and Holman's
      Please join us in a fight to preserve our voice in Sacramento and support school funding.

      Friday, October 5, 2012

      Thursday, October 4, 2012

      Via Citizen Report: No on Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center North Asphalt Plant


      "We want the Amador County Board of Supervisors to Vote No on the Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center North Projects."
       Will you sign this petition? Press Control and Click on the URL below, or copy and paste into your browser:
      Thank you!

      Folks: please go to our website--page 2 and give us your signature. Web site:www.ionevalleylawda.com This will be forwarded to the Amador supervisors for the Oct. 9, 2012 meeting at 10:30 am in Jackson, CA. Do give your email address as they forward right to the Supervisors office. Thank you for your support.

      Fraser West Family

      okewest@wildblue.net

      Wednesday, October 3, 2012

      Mother Lode Tea Party Patriots presents Mark Meckler - Thurs Oct 18

      The Mother Lode Tea Party Patriots speaker in October is Mark Meckler, National Co-Founder of the Tea Party Patriots.

      The topic will be "Win or Lose-What's Next"? In the days and years ahead, many will look back and state this was the time and this was the election that transformed everyday Americans  into action.


      Please join us on Thursday Oct. 18th at 6:30pm at the Italian Picnic grounds, Hwy 49, Sutter Hill.

      Contact us at: motherlodeteaparty.com.

      You can  stop by Wed -Sat at our HQ/Education Center, So Hwy 49, Motherlode Plaza, Jackson
       or call 223-1318.



      Mother Lode Tea Party Newsletter - Oct 2012

      Click on link below to view newsletter:
      http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1109130244675-50/Oct+Newsletter.pdf

      Saturday, September 29, 2012

      Progressive Women's Committee - Thurs Oct 4


      The October meeting of the Progressive Women's Committee will be held on October 4, 2012
      at 11:30 at Thomi's Banquet Room in Jackson.

      There will be no speaker but we will have a discussion on the State Propositions and Newman's Ridge and any other issues of local interest that may come up.

      The buffet luncheon is $15.00 which includes an entree, vegetarian offering,  various drinks, coffee, tea, dessert, tax and tip. Please pay at the door  - cash (the exact amount is appreciated) or personal check only.

      Please respond to Sally at trestrail@gotsky.com
      no later than Tuesday, October  2, 2012 (sooner if possible)
      Note;   If you make a reservation and cannot attend, please CALL me at 267-0177 to cancel by Wednesday at noon. Reservations are sincerely requested.

      Wednesday, September 19, 2012

      No on Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center North Asphalt Plant

      "We want the Amador County Board of Supervisors to Vote No on the Newman Ridge Quarry and Edwin Center North Projects."

      Will you sign this petition? Click here for more info:

      http://signon.org/sign/no-on-newman-ridge-quarry

      Thank you!

      Sondra West-Moore
      swestmoore@gmail.com

      Tuesday, September 18, 2012

      TSPN Interview: Local rancher Rick Sanders

      In this edition of TSPN TV News, Tom Slivick talks with local rancher Rick Sanders who recently had a number of miniature highland cattle stolen from his property.

      http://tspntv.com/component/k2/item/19369-tspn-tv-news-rick-sanders

      Monday, September 10, 2012

      Mother Lode Tea Party- General Meeting- Thurs Sept 13

      Click on link below to view newsletter:

      http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=ds7av5iab&v=001Xb0L0r5qCg1yjKl_hmuwjPD_wY73jzQJjTubob71tnJB9vdqF_B21U9LNDHPXKU6cr-AAR69zFT0tI2SwUjI91Wbt1czH2_qmnn34JzP9Om1aZGm2bXATpfN8LTcsuKHczrWc5CKTIJkKIms1NtVtxeFiOQ4jQTWXkvUOUSDT9q6A4pwbfJ74JnHrWzxtuJyCWltbZQZzY6FEuUkw2_R1w%3D%3D

      Via Citizen Report: "Scare Ware" Scam

      Greetings,

      Last month one of my clients received a call from someone (with an "Indian accent") who said "you are sending virus out of my computer, and they could help since they were a Microsoft Certified company". (They implied they were a Microsoft Company.) Let us log into your computer and we'll help you. (Also, have your credit card ready!)

      This is the company:
      http://24sevenpccare.com

      $250 later, the computer was saved! Hallelujah! But then they called a few days later to extract another $50. This is when I was called. I told her to cancel the credit card transactions with this company and I removed all of their "scare-ware" from her computer.

      Another client related a similar story to me last week, and they contacted me before doing anything. I said "don't do anything, it's a scam!"

      Last Friday I'm at work and who calls...the same guy from India! This is where I confirmed the company and website behind this "scare-bully" tactic.

      Bottom line, if you receive a call from someone who says you're infected, get their phone number to call them back, write it down, hangup, and throw the paper away!

      Call or email me if you have any questions.

      Bob Greene
      bobg@GreeneComputer.com
      209-560-6556

      Saturday, September 8, 2012

      New CBP Analysis: What Would Proposition 38 Mean for California?


      What Would Proposition 38 Mean for California? 
      A new CBP analysis looks at Proposition 38, which will appear on the November 6 statewide ballot. Proposition 38 would temporarily increase personal income tax rates on most California taxpayers, with the higher rates in effect for 12 years beginning on January 1, 2013. The measure would raise an estimated $10 billion in 2013-14 -- the first full fiscal year of implementation -­- and could potentially raise larger amounts in following years. The new revenues would be allocated to K-12 education, early childhood education, and repayment of state general obligation bond debt.

      The CBP neither supports nor opposes Proposition 38. This analysis is designed to help voters make an informed decision based on the merits of the issues.

      Click here to read the report

      Thursday, September 6, 2012

      Motherlode Tea Party Presents: David Wolfe & Congressman Tom McClintock - Sept 13 & 23


      MARK YOUR CALENDAR
      September 13th 
      6:30PM - 8PM
      Speakers 
      David Wolfe 
      Legislative Director 
      Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association  

      "The fire tax is in  
      direct violation of Prop. 13"
      http://firetaxprotest.org/
      Discussion of  the Propositions
       & 
      Angelo Codevilla 
      "Imperial Budgeting"  

      Italian Benevolent Society Hall 
      581 S. Hwy 49
       Sutter Creek, CA    
      September 23RD
      5:00 - 8:00PM
      EVENT of the YEAR
      DINNER
      WITH 
      OUR GUEST SPEAKER
      CONGRESSMAN
      TOM MC CLINTOCK

      Newly refurbished historic

      NATIONAL 
      HOTEL
      Main Street 
      Jackson, CA 

      Three course dinner
      Two choices
      Chicken Jerusalem
      or
      Michael McKnight's Salmon
      $50.00 per person
      (No Host Bar)
      Make your reservation
      Call
      Virginia Manner
      209 296-5549
      or
      Mary Reynolds
      209 267-1115

      Send check to
      MLTP
      PO Box 604
      Jackson, CA   95642

      DEADLINE 
      SEPTEMBER 14th
      Seating is limited


      "Congressman McClintock is appearing at this event only as a featured speaker/honored guest.  Congressman McClintock is not asking for funds or donations.  All solicitations of funds in connection with this event are by the Motherlode Tea Party and not by Congressman McClintock"

      Jackson City Council Objects to AWA Rate Study

      Jackson City Council Objects to AWA Rate Study

      Read more at:
      http://www.amadorwatchdog.org/nl/20120906.html

      No Casino Fundraising Dinner at Helwig - Tues Oct 9



      A Delicious Dinner at Helwig Winery - RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY

      Join us for this No Casino In Plymouth Fundraising dinner!
      Seating is LIMITED... so get your tickets now!
      You can purchase your tickets now by clicking on the Buy Now button to the left side of this post.  You do need a PayPal account in order to purchase tickets here.  If you do not have one you can set one up for free by going to this link: PAYPAL or you can call (209) 245-6211 (Shenandoah Valley Veterinary Clinic) to buy your tickets.

      Dear No Casino In Plymouth Supporters;
      Some of you have expressed dismay at the cost of this first fundraising event at Helwig Winery. Even though this dinner is open to anyone who would like to attend (within a limited number of tickets) we did have a target audience of people and business who may face a large negative financial impact from a casino in Plymouth and so it had been suggested to us to do a large fundraiser like this. We are aware of the cost of these tickets and are planning other dinners and events into the spring that will provide for all budgets.  In fact we have a very fun and delicious Paella Dinner in the works at $100 per plate and are working on a venue. Then sometime in the spring or early summer we are planning a dinner/dance more like our past fall affairs for about $35-$40 dollars per ticket.

      This is a group/community effort and support  for this cause is not limited to financial support. All of these events will require volunteers, auction items, and wine donations so there is opportunity to everyone to help in some way. We have been casino free for almost ten years now due to the continued support of each and every one of you out there. We cannot do this without you and encourage you to continue to check our website &  blog for updates, events, and news of other community input that will be needed every step of the way.

      Thank you all,
      No Casino In Plymouth
      nciplymouth@hotmail.com
                                                 
             Appetizers
           In Wine Cave
      Assorted Passed Canapes

      Sit-Down Dinner
      First Course
      Confit of Duck & White Bean Salad
      organic greens, local herbs
      Rustic Hearth Breads with European Butter

      Entrée
      Syrah Braised Beef Shortribs
      melting beef braised in aromatic vegetables and vibrant Amador wine
      and
      Herbed Lamb Tenderloin Skewer
      Lobster-Potato Gratin
      seasonal vegetables and roasted tomato jus

      Autumn Dessert-Scape
      Maple Pecan Crème Brulee
      Sangiovese Pots d' Crème with Prosciutto Crisp
      Caramel Apple Tart

      Thanksgiving Fair Trade Coffee Service
      Vegetarian or Special Diet Available with Advance Notice


      UPDATE, SEPT 28, 2012

       Hi Everyone,

      This is just a reminder that ticket sales for the Helwig dinner will cut off Monday (Oct 1) so we can get the head count to the caterers.  Thanks to all of you for your support.  This will be a great dinner with our legal team.

      The good news today is that we have finished and filed our amended complaint and are very happy with final document. We are confident that with your support we are going to stop this illegal casino with its negative impacts on our community.

      Jon Colburn

      Ticket can be purchased from Elida at 245 6211 Or Jon at 245 4816

      Mother Lode Tea Party Meeting - Thurs Sept 13

      The Mother Lode Tea Party Patriots meeting on Thurs Sept. 13, 2012 will feature:

      CA Fire Tax -a violation, and the CA State Election Propositions with David Wolfe, Head Legislative Director for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

      Additionally, Dr. Angelo Codevilla  will be speaking on  "Dictatorial Presidency??"

      The meeting  will be held at the Italian Picnic Grounds Hall, Hwy 49, in  Sutter Hill at 6:30pm.

      For more information call the MLTP office at 223-1318 or stop by Motherlode Plaza, Hwy 49 Jackson Wed-Sat 11-3pm.

      You may also go to the website: motherlodeteapartypatriots.com

      Wednesday, August 29, 2012

      CA Budget Project: This Labor Day, California's Job Market Is Improving, But Still Far From Full Recovery

      SACRAMENTO -- A new report for Labor Day from the California Budget Project,a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, finds that three years since the end of the Great Recession, California still has a deep hole in its job market and is gaining jobs far more slowly than needed to fully recover any time soon.

      Waiting for Recovery finds that California has regained only a portion of the jobs it lost during the Great Recession and notes that the state's jobless rate -- which stood at 10.7 percent in July 2012 -- has been in the double digits for 42 consecutive months. Waiting for Recovery also finds that long-term joblessness remains near a record high and that workers' wages continue to lose purchasing power amid a weak job market.

      The lone bright spot in the report is that California's private sector job growth outpaced that in the nation as a whole between June 2011 and June 2012. However, job losses in California's public sector were greater than in the nation as a whole -- in percentage terms -- and offset some of the state's gains in the private sector. These public sector job losses largely reflect a decline in employment in K-12 public schools and community colleges. 

      The report finds that:

      California still has a deep hole in its job market and full recovery remains a long way off. The current recovery is far weaker than every other recovery in recent history. California has gained back fewer than two-fifths of the 1.4 million jobs it lost during the Great Recession. Moreover, at the current pace of job growth, California is unlikely to fully recover from the downturn any time soon. Between July 2011 and July 2012, California gained about 30,000 jobs per month, on average. However, California would need to more than double the number of jobs gained per month to close its job shortfall within three years, while keeping up with population growth.

      Private sector job gains far outpaced those in the US as a whole. Between June 2011 and June 2012, the number of private sector jobs rose by 2.7 percent in California, compared to a 1.8 percent increase in the nation as a whole. The sectors with the strongest job growth in California were information services -- which includes several high-tech industries -- construction, and professional and business services.

      Public sector job losses continued to offset private sector job gains.
      California lost more than 31,000 state and local government jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, equal to approximately one job lost for every 10 private sector jobs gained. More than three-quarters of these lost public sector jobs were in K-12 public schools and community colleges. State and local public sector jobs in California dropped by 1.4 percent, more than twice the decline in the nation as a whole.

      Long-term unemployment in California is down only modestly from a record high. In July 2012, about 700,000 jobless Californians -- more than one-third (34.8 percent) of the unemployed -- had gone without work for at least one year. This is down only slightly from the peak of 730,000 in May 2011.

      Black Californians continue to see a decline in employment. Between July 2011 and July 2012, the employment rate among black Californians of prime working age -- those ages 25 to 54 -- declined by eight-tenths (0.8) of a percentage point, while it increased modestly among similarly aged Latinos (by 1.3 percentage points), whites (by 1.0 percentage point), and Asians (by two-tenths (0.2) of a percentage point). Only around six out of 10 prime-working-age black Californians had jobs in July 2012, well below the share of similarly aged Latinos, whites, and Asians.

      Women in California made weaker employment gains than men. Between July 2011 and July 2012, the employment rate among prime-working-age women rose by less than a percentage point, from 64.0 percent to 64.7 percent, well below the 1.4 percentage point gain in the employment rate among similarly aged men, which rose from 79.2 percent to 80.6 percent. The weaker employment gains among women partly reflect the continued drop in public sector jobs, especially in public schools, where women account for more than seven out of 10 employees.

      Workers' wages continue to lose purchasing power due to the weak job market and high competition for available positions. Between 2006 and 2011, the typical California worker -- the worker with earnings exactly at the middle of the distribution -- saw her hourly wage drop by nearly 5 percent, after adjusting for inflation, falling to its lowest level since 1998.

      The findings from Waiting for Recovery underscore the need for policymakers to maintain a strong safety net for families still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession. The report also points to the importance of investing in proven strategies to improve California's competitiveness -- strengthening the state's schools, colleges and universities, and other building blocks of a strong economy.

      A copy of the full report -- which is embargoed until 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 1, 2012 -- is available here.

      ###

      The California Budget Project (CBP) engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of low- and middle-income Californians. Support for the CBP comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions. Please visit the CBP's website at www.cbp.org.