Friday, October 30, 2015

The Climate is Changing! We Should, Too - Sat Nov 7

Discover What YOU Can Do On November 7
JACKSON, California. On November 7th, Citizens’ Climate Lobby will hold a community meeting to introduce their strategy for empowering local citizens to take effective action on climate change.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots advocacy organization focused on a free market policy to address climate change. CCL works at the local community level to generate the political will needed to pass such national legislation.  We propose a simple carbon fee that returns all revenue to American families. 
With active members in over 400 Congressional districts, we are one of the fastest growing and effective grassroots groups in the country.  In 2014, volunteers like you held 1086 meetings with members of Congress or their staff and wrote over 2000 editorial pieces that were published in newspapers across the U.S.  Our Congressional district (CA-04) is quite large, and a chapter in our area would give our community a voice that speaks for sane energy and climate policies.
Politicians don’t create political will, they follow it, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby is proving that citizens who are well trained and organized with a good system of support can influence the political process.

Anyone interested in working on such an important problem is invited to come hear more about CCL’s policy and ways that you and your neighbors can join this exciting work.

When:  Saturday, November 7th at 10am -11:30am (coffee and visiting at 9:30am)
Where:  Amador Senior Center, 229 New York Ranch Road, Jackson, CA
What:  Learn about Effective Action on Climate Change!
Appreciate RSVP/not required:  Gwen Starrett:

More Information:

Harold Hedelman, CCL NorthernCal RegionalCoordinator:

Short video of CCL:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ione Valley LAWDA vs. Amador County in Superior Court; Please come and support! - Fri Oct 16

News Flash!  We have a new judge for both our legal actions, Judge Leslie Nichols, for both the Referendum Case and our new CEQA case.

This Friday, October 16th in Superior Court at 500 Argonaut Lane in Jackson at 10 am is very important, as we seek to stay our new CEQA case until the Referendum case is heard in early December. The Referendum (to stop the Asphalt Plant and Quarry) was certified with 2,203 signatures by the County Registrar of Voters, but the County and Asphalt Plant/Quarry Developers are trying to use a strange legal process to keep it from going on a live ballot in either June or November of next year. Important to note that their action only affects 1/3 of the Referendum, but we do need your support now!

Simultaneously, they are now trying to throw out our new CEQA case - which does have an abundance of new information, just one is the Official State of Drought in California.

Judge Nichols is not from Amador County, so it is very important that he see in his courtroom this Friday the People of our County that oppose these projects. Their side will be filled with lawyers. Our side needs to be filled with our folks, with our  excellent attorney Doug Carstens. All are welcome to come that oppose these destructive, super polluting and environmentally disastrous projects.

Please mark your calendar, invite friends and see you there! This will take about 90 minutes, we anticipate. Court starts at 10 am, but we will be there at 9:30 am. THANK YOU!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gov. Brown signs AB 142, Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic study bill

On Friday morning, October 9, 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 142 (Bigelow, R-O'Neals), which names 37 miles of the upper Mokelumne River as a potential addition to the state Wild and Scenic River system. The bill provides interim protections for the river while the state studies its suitability for permanent Wild and Scenic River protection. The bill passed the state Legislature on an overwhelming, bipartisan vote last month.

“We're excited that Gov. Brown signed AB 142,” said Foothill Conservancy President Katherine Evatt. “We’re sure the study called for by the bill will demonstrate the many reasons the Mokelumne River should be protected for generations to come while it answers local water agencies’ questions. We see this as a major milestone in our decades-long effort to protect the Mokelumne from new dams and diversions.”

As passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, AB 142:
·      Names the Mokelumne from Salt Spring Dam to Pardee Reservoir as a potential addition to the state Wild and Scenic River System.
·      Calls for a state study to analyze water supply, climate change and other issues of concern to local water purveyors, to be completed by the end of 2017.
·      Requires that the study will provide for input from a broad range of stakeholders.
·      Analyzes the effect of previous state Wild and Scenic designations on water rights applications and water rights granted after designation.
·      Adds protections for the river, including a bar on construction of new dams and diversions on the river upstream of Pardee Reservoir and a ban on state funding or assistance for projects (with some exceptions), that could harm the free-flowing condition and natural character of the same river reaches. Those protections will stay in place until the implementation of any Wild and Scenic designation recommendations resulting from the study or the end of 2021, whichever occurs first.
·      Requires local agencies to pay up to 50 percent of the study’s cost.

AB 142 was a compromise among stakeholders concerned with river conservation and those focused on Mokelumne River water supply and power generation. It was supported by Amador and Calaveras counties, foothill water agencies, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the California Farm Bureau Federation and PG&E in addition to river conservation, recreation and fish organizations. A full designation bill for the Mokelumne, SB 1199, failed in the Legislature last year after passing the state Senate when foothill counties and water agencies complained about the lack of a state suitability study.

“We’d like to thank Assemblyman Bigelow for his leadership in shepherding this bill through with the agreement of diverse stakeholders,” said Evatt. “It's also important to note that passage of this bill will not affect watershed protection and restoration efforts following the Butte Fire.” That recent fire burned nearly 71,000 acres in Amador and Calaveras counties, including some lands in the Mokelumne watershed.

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

AWA Disenfranchises Amador Voters over Water Rates

October 5, 2015 Amador County Elections certified that more than enough voters signed the petition against a resolution that would raise water rates by 34% to as much as 137%. Amador Water Agency (AWA) did not certify petition for the ballot. In doing so, AWA disenfranchised over 2,300 voters who recently signed the petition. The voters merely asked to have the decision on the ballot so the people could decide on the rate increase. Ratepayer Protection Alliance (RPA) is consulting with those voters, and has not decided on which options to pursue.
AWA offered three legal arguments for not certifying the petition. RPA is not persuaded by the arguments: 1) Without the rate increase, AWA allegedly cannot safely operate, 2) the Proposition 218 process replaces the referendum procedure, and 3) the petition causes confusion because it is improperly worded. Each of the arguments is easily seen to be false.
1) AWA cites the “Mission Springs Water District versus Verjil” case as prohibiting referendums to limit rates. In fact, Mission Springs is about an initiative, not a referendum. However, the underlying issue is that State law requires that the revenue must be sufficient to safely operate a water system. Mission Springs decided that an initiative cannot set rates so low that the system cannot operate. AWA’s rates are very different because AWA’s own records show that the rate increase challenged by the referendum is greater than the amount needed to operate the system. Furthermore, there was no emergency requiring the Directors to act at this time. AWA has repeatedly stated that unless rates are raised, it will exhaust its reserves within 2 years. Unlike an initiative, the referendum did not set rates, but merely sought to invalidate a hasty rate increase that is not justified by any actual shortfall in revenue.
2) Proposition 218 gives certain rights concerning water rate increases to property owners. The referendum process gives voters the right to overrule the officials they elect to represent them when those officials behave irresponsibly. While many voters are property owners, many more are not. Furthermore, Prop 218 gives one vote to each parcel, while the referendum law gives one vote to each elector. The two procedures exist independently side by side.
3) AWA cites a particular section of the Elections Code to say that the wording of the petition was confusing. Section 9147(b) says “Each section of the referendum petition shall contain the title and text of the ordinance or the portion of the ordinance which is the subject of the referendum.”  That was done. AWA objects to the following sentence in the petition: “The title and text of the 'FY 15-16 Water Rate Update and Water Shortage Financial Strategy' and 'System-Wide Cost of Service and Water Rate Study' are below in their entirety.” However, the sentence is true because those documents were included with the title and text of the subject ordinance. There is no confusion.
RPA believes that AWA deliberately took this action to thwart the rights of the voters of Amador. Now AWA will use those same voter’s funds to defend AWA’s actions if the voters challenge it.

Ratepayer Protection Alliance

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On my mind are two crises that are half a world apart - Ruth Gottstein

(Reprinted/published courtesy of The Upcountry News, Oct 2015, Vol 14, No. 10 – Thank you, Rick Torgerson)
Although we are still so close to the raging fires that have swept through our forests to fully comprehend both the extent of the disaster—and the human responses which are so heartwarming and eloquent--all I can say at this point is—I feel blessed to live in our community. Our home in Volcano was not threatened, although for awhile nothing was really known. And a special thanks to Ron Regan, owner of Jackson Gardens where I am a resident, for inviting our families to come and stay.  On the first night of their arrival, Adam, Meg and Scuppers, our family dog, camped here. It was actually comforting to look at Adam and Scuppers, asleep on the floor in my room. The next night, they had a wonderful space at Oak Manor, until it was time to go home…four days later.
In the midst of the crisis which we are still in the process of resolving—and undoubtedly will for a long time to come--I receive a message from a family friend in Berlin, Germany. Michael is the creative director of their National Theater (which, by the way, is a cultural treasure of many decades), about how they are handling the refugees arriving from Syria. He describes the National Theater being used for a first staging area for the newly arrived—it sounds somewhat similar to some of the immediate needs which took place here.
Michael says: “… we started to host refugees in our theatre, because there are thousands now in Berlin and they have to sleep on the street otherwise. So we provided beds, food, showers, we are cleaning their clothes and we look after them all night long. Last night it was my turn to look after them and then bring them to the official register points early the next morning. It is so sad...these poor people--they arrived here from Syria with absolutely nothing but their lives.”
Over time, I hope to comment on what our fire and its impact means to Amador County in many ways. How did county government respond? Are improvement in communications needed? At this point, it certainly seems so. A report of a community meeting held in Pine Grove states that our District Three Supervisor Lynn Morgan represented us very well. But what have the other supervisors done? For a small start, take down many of the photos in the lobby of our county building, and display the heroes who fought the fire, and some of the homes which were lost. Show people leading animals to safety, and food and other needs being collected and distributed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Federal Lands Subcommittee Hearing on "State, Local, and Tribal Approaches to Forest Management: Lessons for Better Management of our Federal Forests

September 29, 2015
Congressman McClintock is the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee.  The subcommittee held a hearing on "State, Local, and Tribal Approaches to Forest Management: Lessons for Better Management of our Federal Forests” on September 29th, 2015. Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement at the hearing:
Chairman’s Opening Statement
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
House Natural Resources Committee
September 29, 2015
The Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets today to examine state, local, and tribal approaches to forest management and how we can apply these approaches to better federal forestry management.   We will begin with five minute opening statements by the Chairman and Ranking Member.
When Gifford Pinchot founded the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, he envisioned an agency that worked cooperatively with local communities to maximize the sustainable use and enjoyment of our resources.  His policy was to manage our forests “for the greatest good for the greatest number of people in the long run.”
For decades, the Forest Service did just that.  The emerging science of forestry offered us principles of sound forest management with which to assure healthy, thriving and resilient forests in perpetuity.
These practices prevented vegetation and wildlife from overgrowing the ability of the land to support them.  The sale of excess timber provided a steady stream of revenues to the treasury which could, in turn, be used to further improve, protect and manage the public lands.  It also contributed significantly to our nation’s prosperity.
But 45 years ago, we replaced these sound management practices with what can only be described as a policy of benign neglect.  In the 1970’s, Congress opened a floodgate of ponderous and Byzantine laws, regulations and lawsuits, with the explicit promise to “save the environment” from the predations of mankind. 
After 45 years of these policies, I believe we are entitled to ask, “How are our national forests doing?”  The answer is damning.  Our forests have not been improved by these policies, and in fact, have been tragically and catastrophically harmed by them.  
Surplus timber harvested from of our national forests has dropped more than 80 percent in those years, while acreage destroyed by forest fire has increased proportionally.  Wildlife habitats these laws were supposed to preserve are being incinerated as forests become choked with the overgrowth these laws have prevented us from removing.  We have lost vast tracts of national forests to pestilence, disease and fire.  We cannot even salvage the fire-killed timber before it loses its value and is abandoned to insects and decay.
Ironically, our non-federal forest lands are conspicuously healthier than the federal lands precisely because they are freed from so many of the laws that are tying the hands of our federal public foresters.  
Adequately funding our national forests would not be an issue IF we could sell the excess timber out of our forests before it burns as we did for many decades.  This paid not only to clean out and protect our forests, but also to replant the acreage we lost, assure a perpetual resource for future generations, restore a vibrant and prosperous economy to our forested regions. 
The House has already taken the first step toward restoring sound forest management to our public lands by adopting the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, HR 2647 by Congressman Bruce Westerman.  
It seeks to provide the Forest Service with immediate reforms that require no new regulations, rules, planning or mapping.  Among other things, it streamlines fire and disease prevention programs by providing categorical exclusions from NEPA for forest treatment and salvage operations.  It sets a 90-day time limit on environmental studies for salvage sales, assuring that fire-killed timber can be quickly removed to create both revenues and room so that we can restore fire-damaged lands.  
It permanently fixes the fire borrowing problem by amending the Stafford Act to allow wildfire costs that exceed the budget to be paid for by the Disaster Relief Fund.   
HR 2647 passed the House in July, and we now await action in the Senate. 
This legislation, however, was just the first step.  We must consider additional approaches and new ideas to improve the health of our federal forests and that is why we are here today. 
We are here to answer the question, “Why are the federal forests in such poor condition while forests managed by states, localities and tribes are healthy and thriving?” 
Today we will hear expert testimony from a panel of witnesses who will be able to tell the subcommittee what works for them and offer guidance for how we can improve management of our federal forests. We will also hear about the devastating economic impacts of what happens when our federal lands are mismanaged.    
The American people want our forests returned to health. We want the continually rising threat of wildfire brought back under control.   That will require a dramatic change in current policy. We began that process with the passage of HR 2647, and we will continue to look for solutions to this forest health epidemic.

Wild Horse Adoption Program at Murieta Equestrian Center - Sat Nov 14

For More Information Contact:
R3C Ranch Mgr. Joe Misner

Murieta Equestrian Center
7200 Lone Pine Drive
Rancho Murieta

Letter to the Editor - Appeal to the BOS for better cell coverage!


It is time to take a bit of action. Please pass this along to everyone and anyone that wants better Wireless coverage in Amador County. Emergency Services, Agencies, Groups, Clubs, Business Associates, and Residents.

The meeting for the Fiddletown Cell Pole is before the Amador County Board of Supervisors on OCT 13th at 10:30am county building.  It was 100% approved by the County Planning Commission with a Faux Tree last month. This decision was appealed by Elton and Laura Allred 2 1/2 year residents of Fiddletown. Paid the $500 for the appeal and stated Sherpa rules and laws were not followed by the county.  We now understand it was not just about a tree. They want to stop all Cell Tower progress.  Do not let 2 people ruin our chance for better cell coverage. They are trying to set a precedent which will stop all Future Cell Towers in our area, with a potential to remove existing coverages.

The rest of Amador Residents want better coverage. In light of the recent Butte Fire, Emergency Communications like this Approved Mono Pine Cell Pole needs your support.

Come and be a collective voice for better service. Should they succeed in reversing the Planning Commissions approval, our chances of better cell service on this end of the county, will not be good.

Share with others that support the new 4G cell service….that would be everyone.

PLEASE, Contact your County Board of Supervisor with a Letter of Support or attend the meeting.

Reno Farinelli