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 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

Syncrude Upgrader and Tar Sands

Based on Garth Lenz’ award-winning TED talk, and using images produced over two decades,  HYPERLINK " 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:

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:

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

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.