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

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

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

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? 

Susan Manning

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

AWA Accounting Adjustments Expose $6 Million Omission

Click on the link below to view release:

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 or call 209-295-4900. To see a trailer of the film, see

'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:

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 and can be read on Kindle, Kindle Fire and most smart phones and Ipads with the Kindle app.

Scott Thomas Anderson

"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 – 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 ( is the US Ambassador for The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); 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,, submitted letters to the County, citing numerous environmental concerns., a pro-social media organization, covered the story in depth:

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 ( 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.