Wednesday, June 25, 2014

For the Love of Pits: An Interview with Ione Pit Bull Owner Travis Branco

Travis Branco is the owner of two pit bulls, Ocho and Sophie. Ocho was recently injured while running in Howard Park in Ione, and is in need of surgery.
Find out how you can help Ocho at the end of the interview...
Carol Harper: You have some beautiful dogs, Travis. How old are Ocho and Sophie?
Travis Branco: Thank you! Ocho is 4.5 years old and Sophie is 4 years and 3 months.

Did you get Ocho or Sophie first? What were they like, as puppies?
Ocho was first. They were the cutest puppies ever! Ocho was super easy to potty train but Sophie wasn't. They were both very active and super lovable.

Carol Harper: Did you always want to be a pit bull owner? What was it that made you decide to be one?
No, my best friend’s male Brendal (Spelling?) pit bull, 'Otis' (now 12 years old), made me decide to be a Pit Bull owner. Otis is practically human! He has so much personality, and he loves human interaction and adventures. I knew that Pit Bulls were a challenge to train, but I wanted that challenge because the reward is huge with them. I have never seen a dog breed appreciate their master more so when treated right. These dogs know when they are taken care of with love and affection and having their needs satisfied. 

Carol Harper: Going into the decision, did you know the stereotypes that might come along with being a pit bull owner?
Yes. That's part of the reason why I got them. I wanted to make a difference and change that stereotype into a positive one!

Carol Harper: What have been some of the joys of being a pit bull owner? Challenges?
They're goofiness and playfulness is hilarious. I find myself being entertained by them all the time. They get so excited, but at the same time they can get so disappointed. They help me stay consistent with my emotions. I've learned a lot about myself having them. They are just as emotional as we are. I have to really pay attention to how Im feeling because it effects them tremendously.

Carol Harper: How are Ocho and Sophie around family? Around friends? Strangers?
They are wonderful around family and friends, and are super excited to see any of them.Ocho was always very excited around strangers until I got Sophie. I think he has become protective of her, but in a non-violent way. They are both cautious with strangers, and you have to earn their affection. Most Pit bulls I know are more than happy to get loves from a stranger. Mine have adjusted to the environment they live, which just goes to show how sensitive they really are!

Carol Harper: Let’s talk a little bit about Ocho and his accident/injury. What happened?
Ocho tore his left rear knee (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) running on the baseball field at Howard Park in Ione, CA. Unfortunately, the baseball field has a lot of gopher holes, and Ocho must have stepped in one. He didn't show any pain until the night after a day at the park. He has been sore ever since (almost a year has past) and he is in need of the surgery. He can’t run anymore until then.

Carol Harper: Ocho is a pretty muscular dog. What signs do you see, if any, in him coping/compensating for his injuries? Can he walk, or is he bed-ridden?
He can walk. I feed him a little less now since he cant be active anymore. His walking is for mobility on the muscles so it doesn’t go into complete atrophy. If he builds up too much scar tissue on the knee, he will not be able to get the surgery. So keeping him in a minimal active state, but not too much is tough. He wants to run, and thinks he still can. He is literally attached at my hip on a leash, or he stays in the car when I go places. He still loves car rides :)

Carol Harper: How has his “sister” Sophie reacted to his injury?
Sophie knows when he is sore and in pain. She licks hima and cuddles. When he’s feeling good, she tries to get him to play...I have to stop it any time they do, though.

Carol Harper: For those who are pet owners…pets are considered family members. How are you, yourself, doing in the care for Ocho’s injury?
He is family, for sure. I have to keep him from jumping, running and playing. He can walk at a slow pace and not everyday. It is a work in progress still.

Carol Harper: Some might be indignant simply by the fact that Ocho is a pit bull. Some might think, “Put him down. One less pit bull in the world to worry about.”  Are there any groups or organizations that you know of or would recommend in educating the public about pit bulls as pets?
I would recommend just paying attention to the positive stories you hear. Seems as if the news ONLY publishes negative pit bull stories, but there are so many amazing positive ones you just have to search for them. I see a lot on Facebook, and there are many pages for Pit Bull lovers and info on the breed. They are amazing dogs and need us humans to give them love and affection as well as good healthy habits. We can learn a lot from them. :)

You can find out more about Ocho
and the help he needs by visiting the following sites:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SB 1199 passes Assembly Committee on Natural Resources

On Monday, June 23, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources passed Senate Bill 1199, which would protect 37 miles of the Mokelumne River with state Wild and Scenic River designation. The final vote was 6-2, with one committee member absent.

“We’re really happy to see the bill moving on,” said Cecily Smith, Foothill Conservancy executive director. “Meanwhile, Senator Hancock has pledged to work with the opponents to address their concerns as the bill moves forward.”

SB 1199 is authored by state Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and co-sponsored by Friends of the River and the Foothill Conservancy. It would bar new dams on the Mokelumne from Salt Springs Dam to Pardee Reservoir and require state agencies to protect the river's “extraordinary” cultural, historic, scenic, water quality and recreational values in the course of their regular duties.

“State Wild and Scenic designation leaves regulation of private land in the hands of local government,” Smith said. “It applies only to the bed and banks of the river up to the first line of permanent vegetation and our counties will retain all land use authority.

“State protection also doesn't change the way the BLM or Forest Service manage public land, including their work to prevent or fight wildland fires. It just keeps state agencies from approving or permitting new dams on the river or projects that harm the river’s flow or extraordinary values.”

Wild and Scenic designation for the Mokelumne is supported by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, local businesses, tourism and economic development groups, three tribes, a long list of conservation and community groups, and thousands of individuals in Amador and Calaveras counties. It is opposed by the Amador County Board of Supervisors, local water agencies, Amador County Business Council, Ione Band of Miwok Indians, San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Hancock has pledged to work with the opponents of the bill on amendments to address their concerns.

Smith remarked, “While it’s clear that wild and scenic designation does not prevent water agencies from getting new water rights upstream of the designated section or on tributary streams, we’re happy to see Sen. Hancock and the opponents working on mutually agreeable language.”

The bill’s next stop is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. That vote is not expected until August since the Legislature starts a one-month recess in early July.

For more information, contact Cecily Smith at 209-223-3508, or Katherine Evatt, 209-296-05734,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Former UCC Chairperson Lynn Morgan speaks out on Council's Operational Guidelines regarding consensus

Hello UCC Officers,

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for next Monday's UCC meeting but I must comment on the meeting announcement that Sherry sent a few days ago.

If you review the UCC Operational Guidelines and our written policies about working as a team, you will be reminded that our goal is finding consensus when possible. I was very disappointed to read the meeting notice which presented a VERY strong opposition to a current bill in the legislature and suggested perhaps UCC might officially oppose this bill.  This entire concept of only allowing discussion from opponents of the bill truly violates the basis for UCC.  I am very hopeful that you will invite more people, including proponents of the bill, to help the folks of UCC learn what it is about.  I also noted there was no agenda included.

Please honor the rules with which we have agreed to operate and be sure a fair, open discussion which presents all facts is displayed at that meeting.

Many thanks and see you next UCC meeting,

Former UCC Chair
Lynn Morgan

P.S. feel free to call me if you wish to discuss this, either this evening at home 295-8626, or on my cell, 916 671-0152 as I will be out of town until next Wednesday.

Former Nevada County resident says "Wild and Scenic" is a win-win for all

As a relatively new resident to Amador County, I am thrilled to know that the beautiful Mokelumne River may be selected to receive the distinction of “Wild and Scenic.” I understand that concerns and questions exist regarding the effects and intent of SB 1199. I hope my experience and perspective will help clarify.

I spent most of my life in Nevada County. When younger, we played and fished on the Yuba River. The “river” was the place for parties and picnics. For some, it provided release and tranquility. However, it wasn’t until our local conservation group focused attention on the river that we began to take responsibility for the South Yuba and what it provided.

Fifteen years ago, the South Yuba became a state-protected “Wild and Scenic” river. As in Amador County, some residents became alarmed. When there is change, there is always controversy. But this is what happened:

• The community began to take more responsibility and interest in the integrity of the river and our watersheds.

•The river became “revered”: Instead of taking its magnificence for granted, the community began to truly care and support efforts to support and maintain the river.

•The river was recognized as an important community amenity, resulting in more support for local businesses, boosting tourism, and attracting involved, caring, and contributing new residents to the county.

Private land owners in Nevada County are using their land as they did before designation (state law specifically states that there will be no effect on private property rights). Along and near the river, property values have risen. The community thrives; there has been no negative impact.

Wild & Scenic is a “win-win” situation for all. I am thrilled that residents of Amador and Calaveras counties have been given this incredible opportunity.

Arleen Lindstedt
Pioneer, CA

Monday, June 2, 2014

Senate passes Wild and Scenic bill for the Mokelumne River

On Thursday, May 29, the state Senate approved SB 1199, the Mokelumne Wild and Scenic River bill, on a 22-12 vote. The bill has now moved to the state Assembly, where it will be heard in committee before moving to an Assembly vote.

SB 1199 would designate about 37 miles of the North Fork and main Mokelumne River from Salt Springs Dam to the eastern edge of Pardee Reservoir as a state Wild and Scenic River. The designation bars dams and major diversions in the designated area, but will not affect existing hydropower and water facilities. Amendments made to the bill will ensure that the designation will not affect Amador and Calaveras County's current and future water rights as long as water projects do not dam or harm the 37 designated miles of river. They also clarify that the end point of the designated river does not reduce the existing size of Pardee Reservoir. The legislation will prevent the expansion of that reservoir and permanently protect the Mokelumne's Electra Run and Middle Bar reach.

"We're excited that the Senate voted to protect the Mokelumne," said Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Cecily Smith. "It's an especially challenging year to move a river protection bill, with all of the focus on the drought and calls for new dams. But clearly the senators see the merits of protecting these sections of the Mokelumne, which already provides water for more than 1.3 million people, agriculture and hydropower."

San Joaquin water interests are among those in the state who hope the drought leads to more dams, even on our hard-working Mokelumne. In a draft letter for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, Board Chairman Robert V. Elliott said, "By designating certain reaches of the Upper Mokelumne River as “wild and scenic”, SB 1199 would prohibit the construction or reconstruction of reservoirs such as Pardee, Lower Bear, and Middle Bar on the identified segments of the river." The high version of the Middle Bar Dam would flood the river from below Middle Bar Bridge to the confluence of the North and Middle forks, inundating private property along the river and mining claims on BLM lands. SB 1199 would protect those lands by stopping the Middle Bar Dam and other river-destroying on-stream dam proposals.
SB 1199 was authored by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), whose constituents rely on its clean water, and is co-sponsored by Foothill Conservancy and Friends of the River. It is supported by three recognized tribes; a number of local individuals, elected officials, businesses, and business organizations; and a long list of conservation, recreation, fishing and environmental justice organizations. The bill is currently opposed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, Amador County Board of Supervisors and various water agencies, including the North San Joaquin County Water Conservation District.

"As amendments refine the bill language and agencies and landowners learn more about what state Wild and Scenic designation does and doesn't do, we hope to convert some of the opposition to support," Smith said. "State Wild and Scenic designation is really very limited in scope. It does not affect local land use regulation or private property. And with the amendments to the bill, our original intent is now even more clear: to protect the river from new dams and keep it healthy, not stop water projects that are needed in the future for local supply."

For more information on SB 1199, contact Katherine Evatt, Foothill Conservancy, 209-296-5734,

Be on the lookout for fraudulent emails/phone calls claiming to be from the U.S. Postal Service

The Postal Inspection Service has received complaints from individuals nationwide related to fraudulent emails and phone calls stating a package was unable to be delivered. These emails and phone calls are attempting to gather personal identifying information.

The email, which claims to be from the U.S. Postal Service, includes a message related to an attempted or intercepted package delivery. The customer is told to click the link or open an attachment then print the label. When opened, a malicious virus is installed on the computer.
This virus could steal personal identifiers of the customer and compromise the customer’s information. If a customer receives an email similar to the one described above, they should follow these steps:
• Do not click on the link or open the attachment
• Forward the email to
• Delete the email

Criminals are also contacting potential victims via the phone. When contacted, similar information is provided related to an attempted or intercepted package delivery. The caller attempts to obtain personal identifying information from the customer.

If a customer receives a phone call, they should follow these steps:

• Do not provide any personal identifying information to the caller
• Hang up
• Contact your local Post Office to verify the phone call
• Contact the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455

The Postal Inspection Service is actively investigating these fraudulent emails and phone calls. Be on the lookout for fraud

Bob Greene

Once Upon A Time...

…I had the opportunity to sit in a meeting with a candidate for District 5 supervisor and asked him the following question.

“If you, as a supervisor, were presented with a project proposal for Amador County  that would on the one hand represent financial benefit to you or your family but on the other hand was a project that had the potential to negatively impact the community on some way and the citizens of Amador County overwhelmingly opposed; would you support that project or would you stand with your constituents?”

That candidate’s response was to not answer the question saying only that he “would have to think about that.” That non-answer was all the answer I needed. I did not vote for him then and I will not vote for him now.

A supervisor must be able to separate life as an independent businessman from a new life as a public servant. Clearly this individual was conflicted as to what his new responsibilities would be.

We citizens of Amador County in general and of District 5 in particular, need a supervisor who understands a commitment of service.  That individual must be responsive to the concerns of ALL the people he represents not just a select few.  That elected official must be accessible and willing to weigh the thoughts and opinions that are brought before him, not simply dismiss those who do not share his political biases. That representative must be able to operate as an independent thinker and problem solver that is beholden to non-other than every citizen of his district and county.

Incredibly, public office is probably the only job where no training is required. Yet, an incumbents “experience” counts for little without demonstrable public good as a result.  Whether Republican or Democrat, Liberal or other, what we need is honest and proactive representation not another clever politician with glossy mailers spouting the same old rhetoric.

One candidate has the tract record of vision, implementation, and results serving a greater community and can bring that history and mindset to continue to serve the best interest of all Amador County and District 5 citizens – join me in supporting Daniel D’Agostini for District 5 Supervisor.
Elida A. Malick, DVM
Resident/Small Business Owner Dist. 5