Wednesday April 17, 2019

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UPDATE :

Full Mueller Report (redacted) here

“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”  Nelson Mandela

Thursday April 18th at The Yuba Theatre  9:30 a.m. B Street Theatre presents the Fantasy Festival admission is free sponsored by Sierra County Arts Council

Saturday April 20th at noon the  DFVD Annual Easter Egg Hunt on the school playground.

The Gold Nugget Republican Women Federated invite you to join them at their first meeting of 2019 on April 24, 2019 at the Masonic Hall in Downieville.

Curious about our Canadian visitors on Tuesday, trad the Mountain Messenger, they have the scoop and will let me have it next week..

A letter to the Editor this week was written about Brian Dahle and his unfortunate tie to a dirty campaign tactic of another candidate, the writer professes sorrow for jumping to conclusions about Dahle’s complicity in the act. I understand how she feels although I am a Democrat I did respect Dahle in the way he worked with us and tried to find compromise to represent all his constituents not just his “base”.  I appreciate that Ms Uruburu has the gumption to update her thoughts. So enough said about that…

So the man occupying the White House continues to expand his control of all things as we travel unwillingly down the path to what… we don’t know,,,, things are bleak right now when it comes to the climate, to the countries, our allies, we are tossing willy nilly with no thought of where we’re going and just letting it happen… What’s happened so far isn’t pretty… when there is talk of “the deep state” I always have dismissed it… but now I’m beginning to think there is a deep state and Trump is the leader of the gang… I just wish we could call a special election or a recall… I think we realize somehow Congress has allowed the President to have too much power over the years and we weren’t ever dreaming someone like Trump would gain a seat and turn it to a throne..

Phil’s Photo, On the Shelf,Mountain Messenger,  FireHouse News, Sheriff’s Public Log, please read Robert Dodge, Andrew Moss, Robert Koehler, Mel Gurtov, CC’s Postscripts, Carrie’s Corner.

The photo this week epitomizes Spring and was was taken by Jenny Varn in Goodyears Bar…just a quiet moment in a world of turmoil.

Mountain Messenger (friends) 4/17/19

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Well Froot Loops… I checked with The Don to see how many compliments he received and he told me none…not one… it was really sad ..I know he wasn’t lying because if he got even one compliment it would count as a new subscription, hence income for the newspaper… and it was in his interest to lie and yet he didn’t… good to know he is always truthful … meanwhile Lee suggest with my unfortunate incident of The Don commenting on how beautiful I am… it might be wise to seek a restraining order… I don’t know, it is an option but because no one is able to say nice things to The Don it seems wrong to increase his humiliation. The good news is The Don’s best friend, former District Attorney agreed to  break bread with him at Coyoteville Cafe, they were having an intimate lunch when county auditor Van Maddox entered the cafe and immediately sat with them and suddenly everything turned tense.. I’m not sure what the issue was and oh sure, they were laughing and talking but I ask you how can an Auditor, District Attorney and The Press relax… wondering who’s got what on who.. or maybe I’m thinking to much… anyhow compliment him so I can get the RO and he will get the subscription revenue.

Send anything you need published to Miss Jill, ROTP at yesdearyousuck@yahoo.com or call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to The Don. For a subscription: send money to Mountain Messenger at P.O. Drawer A, Downieville 95936 or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to The Don Russell at mtnmess@cwo.com and tell him you subscribed because the sierracountyprospect.org begged you to….. Subscriptions cost –In Sierra County $30 1yr- $50 2yrs / Out of county $35 1 yr -$60 2yrs

Creel Moves On 4/17/19

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 Fire Chief /Paramedic Marty Creel

Downieville Ambulance Paramedic and Fire Chief, Marty Creel, has resigned to take a Deputy State Fire Marshall position in Sacramento, effective April 19th. Marty has been our resident Paramedic for the past 10 months and our interim Fire Chief for the past 6 months. Marty was hired with funding from Sierra Frontier Medical Resources and has made significant advances in the organization and operation of the Downieville Ambulance as well as the Downieville Fire Department. Marty had been considered for the Deputy State Fire Marshall position for 6 months prior to taking the Downieville Paramedic position but the application process had been delayed until now. Marty and his wife Jackie have been an integral part of the EMS and Fire Family and will be missed. There is a reception at the Downieville Community Hall at 6 PM, Thursday, April 18th where everyone is cordially invited. Desserts and Punch will be served. 

Downieville Fire Protection District and Sierra Frontier Medical Resources will launch a recruitment effort for a new Paramedic in the next week. Emergency Medical Services will not be interrupted. Jacie Epperson, RN will resume her EMS Supervisor role and Advanced Emergency Care will be provided by our current EMTs, Advanced EMTs and Frank Lang, NP.

On The Shelf by Paul 4/17/19

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Issue 2019 – 5
Book Share
The next gathering to share books that we’ve been reading happens on Thursday, April 25, 5:15 PM at the Downieville Library. (The library is located in the basement of the Native Daughters’ Hall at 318 Commercial Street.) Whether you come to share books you’ve read, or come to listen to what others have been reading, you are welcome!

What’s New on the Shelves
We’ve been busy at the library lately, adding books and movies to our collection. Here are some of them:

Fiction
Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson
The Fix, by David Baldacci (thriller)
The Janus Affair, by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks
Boy Made of Dawn, by R. Allen Chappell (mystery)
Truelove & Homegrown Tomatoes, by Julie Cannon
Betsy the Vampire Queen, by MaryJanice Davidson
The Panther, by Nelson DeMille (audio on CD)
Lethal White, by Robert Galbraith (large print mystery)
An Acceptable Time & Many Waters, by Madeleine L’Engle (juvenile)
Romancing the Dead, by Tate Hallaway
The Fallen Man, by Tony Hillerman (mystery)
The World to Come, by Dara Horn
Out of Oz, by Gregory Maguire
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Give a Dog a Donut, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Take a Mouse to School, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, by Laura Numeroff (easy reader)
Night and Day, by Robert B. Parker (mystery)
The Seamstress, by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Lone Wolf & Second Glance, by Jodi Picoult
Malice, by Danielle Steele
Near Enemy, by Adam Sternbergh

Non-fiction
Soft Furnishings: Sewing Home Decor, by Nicholas Barnard
Designing the New Kitchen Garden, by Jennifer R. Bartley
Step Right Up, by Donna Janell Bowman (juvenile)
Simply Salads, by Jennifer Chandler
The House at Sugar Beach, by Helene Cooper (biography)
The 4-Hour Chef, by Timothy Ferriss
Chili-lover’s Cook Book, by Al & Mildred Fischer
Cheese & Beer, by Janet Fletcher
The Heirloom Life Gardener, by Jere & Emilee Gettle
The Nature of Animal Healing, by Martin Goldstein
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer (2 books: easy reader & juvenile)
The What to East If You Have Cancer Cookbook, by Maureen Keane & Daniella Chace
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, by Michael Pollan
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the “It” Girl, and The Crime of the Century, by Paula Uruburu

Movies
We have also shelved 26 movies new to the library: 1 on Blu-Ray; and, 25 on DVD. We’ll list those in a future column.

DVL Library News 4/17/19

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Hi Library Users and Readers,

April 25th   5:15 pm

Downieville Library at the Native Daughters Building 
Meet to share what has been read.
Share what you want to read next?….
There are so many writers and books that are out there.
Your participating expands the universe (oh, really?) Well, just a little hyperbole.
Yes, I did read “Becoming”, I will have the children’s book a young artist who visited our town illustrated completed and was published just a day after her death. I am looking forward to what you have and think.
 
Linda, the colorful email writer

Visitor Center Help 4/17/19

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SIERRA COUNTY CHAMBER OPPORTUNITY

The Sierra County Chamber of Commerce is looking for an individual(s) to staff the Visitor Centers in Downieville (Saturday and Sunday) and Sierra City (Sunday only) during our tourist season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend).   The shifts are from 10am to 2pm and may include holidays and special events.  The individual applying should be personable, have good communication skills and be familiar with the local area including the hiking and biking trails.  This would be a volunteer paid position not to exceed $30 per shift.  Please apply now for first consideration to info@sierracountychamber.com,  Mary Ervin, Chamber President, at (530) 862-1173.  

Board of Supervisors 4/17/19

COUNTY OF SIERRA  BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
REGULAR MEETING
You are going to have to listen and/or look at the documents.. cause the recording was not put up in time for my ears…
 The Clerk of the Board may be reached at 530-289-3295 or at the following addresses:
Heather Foster – clerk-recorder@sierracounty.ca.govREGULAR AGENDA

9:00A.M.

STANDING ORDERS

  • Call to Order
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Consent Agenda, Regular Agenda and Correspondence to be addressed by the Board
2.

PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY

3.

COMMITTEE REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

4.

DEPARTMENT MANAGERS’ REPORTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.

FOREST SERVICE UPDATE

Update by District Ranger on items that may affect the County of Sierra.
6.

SHERIFF/CORONER – MIKE FISHER

6.A.

Discussion/adoption of resolution approving Cooperative Law Enforcement Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Operating and Financial Plan between the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office and the USDA, Forest Service Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

6.B.

Authorization to pay for unexpected vehicle repair, Sheriff’s Vehicle #891 – 2017 Ford Expedition. Well this is fascinating how to spend tax money without even trying, apparently this was a left over problem from the previous administration …read the documents.

Documents:  – Vehicle repair ROP 2019.pdf
7.

PUBLIC WORKS/TRANSPORTATION – TIM BEALS

7.A.

Resolution authorizing purchase, payment and installation of for two speed feedback signs from Statewide Traffic and Signs in the amount of $9,030.45.

7.B.

Discussion and direction to staff regarding the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 Per Capita Program.

7.C.

Discussion and direction with regard to the USFS (North Yuba Ranger District) proposal to construct the Gold Valley Rim Off-Highway Vehicle Trailhead approximately 1/4 mile north of Packer Saddle.

7.D.

Discussion on standing offers of dedication on various roads and direction to staff on a recommendation to have the Board of Supervisors formally accept offers of dedication from previous subdivision maps for Hill Lane in Verdi, Sierra County from the Nevada State Line to Dog Valley Road.

Documents: – Hill Lane Verdi.Item.pdf

7.E.

Discussion on approach to serving the administrative and management obligations of the SNC Grant for the Yuba Project and approval of professional services agreement with North Valley Resource Management (Danielle Bradfield, Registered Professional Forester), for management and administrative services to be performed on behalf of the County to comply with the SNC grant agreement in the amount of $500,000.

7.F.

Introduction and first reading of ordinance amending Sierra Brooks Water System policies to conform to the proposed water system grant and loan project funded by USDA Rural Development.

Documents: – SB Water Ordinance.pdf
8.

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER – JEREMY MILLER

8.A.

Discussion/adoption of resolution authorizing the Auditor to make changes to the 2018/2019 Final Budget for purchase of a computer system backup.

Documents: – Computer System Backup.pdf

9.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

9.A.

Approval of letter in opposition to AB 1356 regarding commercial retail cannabis activities. (SUPERVISOR ADAMS)

9.B.

Appointments to the Sierra County Fire Protection District #1. (CLERK OF THE BOARD)

10.

CLOSED SESSION

10.A.

Closed Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2) – conference with legal counsel regarding anticipated litigation – 1 case.

Documents:
10.B.

Closed Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54957 and 54957.6 – Department Managers.

Documents: – Closed Session DHs.pdf

11.

LOYALTON LANDFILL PRESENTATION

11.A.

Presentation by Craig Morgan of Avalex, Inc. on the near completion of the landfill closure project.

  • Following Mr. Morgan’s presentation the Board of Supervisors will recess and reconvene at the Loyalton Landfill to tour and observe the closure project and to view the new waste compactor just placed into service at the transfer station.
12.

TIMED ITEMS

12.A.

10:00AM CONTINUED DISCUSSION – VACATION PUBLIC ACCESS EASEMENT

Continued discussion and direction to staff and/or final determination on the proposed road abandonment of the county road/alley located south of and behind Los Dos Restaurant including possible adoption of resolution terminating said vacation proceedings.
13.

CONSENT AGENDA

13.A.

Authorize payment of invoice 194466 to Intermountain Disposal for tipping fees for waste that has been diverted to Delleker Transfer Station. (PUBLIC WORKS)

Documents: –IMD.Item.pdf

13.B.

Resolution approving Agreement for Federal Apportionment Exchange Program and State Match Program California Department of Transportation‐Non MPO County (X19‐5913(074). (PUBLIC WORKS)

Documents: Exchange.Item.pdf

13.C.

Authorize road department expenditure in the amount of $9,000 for needed repairs for the Goodyears Bar Road Maintenance Shop Generator. (PUBLIC WORKS)

Documents: Generator.Item.pdf

13.D.

Resolution authorizing the Auditor to make certain changes to the 2018/19 Final Budget for Court Security. (AUDITOR)

13.E.

Resolution adopting pay tables for Sierra County and Special Revenue Funds to comply with CalPERS requirement to publicly post all compensation. (AUDITOR)

Documents: – Pay Table Resolution.pdf

13.F.

Amendment to agreement between California Department of Justice and Sierra County for DUI analysis services. (SHERIFF)

13.G.

Resolution approving Boating Safety and Waterways Financial Aid Program Agreement for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 between Sierra County and California State Parks Boating and Waterways. (SHERIFF)

Documents: DBW AGM 2019 2020.pdf

13.H.

Resolution authorizing the Auditor to make certain transfers in the 2018/2019 County Budget regarding Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Workforce Education Training (WET) trust account. (BEHAVIORAL HEALTH)

Documents: – WET Resolution Board.pdf

13.I.

Amendment to Agreement 2004-143 between the Western Sierra Medical Clinic and the County of Sierra for use of additional office space for the Sierra County Personnel Department. (PERSONNEL)

Documents: WSMC Lease Agm.pdf

13.J.

Certified statement of the results of the canvass for the March 26, 2019 Senate District 1 Special Primary Election. (ELECTIONS)

Documents:
13.K.

Minutes from the regular meeting held on March 5, 2019. (CLERK-RECORDER)

Documents: 03052019 minutes.pdf

13.L.

Minutes from the regular meeting held on March 19, 2019. (CLERK-RECORDER)

Documents: 03192019 minutes.pdf

ADJOURN

Sheriff’s Public Log 4/17/19

Sierra County Sheriff’s Public Information Log

ACT-Active ARR-Arrest Completed CIT-Citation Issued CNC-Cancelled or No Report Required  INA-Inactive   RPT-Report Taken   TRA-Transferred to Other Agency   UNF-Unfounded UTL-Unable to Locate or Gone on Arrival – and here is Ca Code Source

4/8/19

0658 – Report of fuel theft in Goodyear’s Bar – RPT SCSO
0707 – Vehicle collision maybe Hwy 49 MPM 52 – TRA CHP
0842 – Welfare check needed in Sierraville – UNF SCSO
0941 – Lost Alaskan Huskee in Truckee – CNC SCSO
1014 – Ambulance requested in Loyalton – TRA LOAM
1146 – Suspected child abuse in Downieville – RPT SCSO
1657 – Family fight in Sierra Brooks – UNF SCSO
2041 – Sex Offense in Loyalton – ACT SCSO
2215 – 9-1-1 weather hangup Clark Station – CNC SCSO

4/9/19

1010 – Civil issue with creek use in Sierraville – ACT SCSO
1343 – Overturned big-rig leaking propane in Celestial Valley
1813 – Water in line calls 9-1-1 hang-up Clark Station – CNC SCSO
2242 – Cow in Hwy 49 by Harriot Lane near Loyalton – TRA CHP

4/10/19

0846 – Request for ambulance in Sierra City – TRA DVFD

4/11/19

0735 – Illegal dumping reported in Long Valley – RPT SCSO
0823 – Traffic hazard on Hwy 49 near Loganville – TRA CALT
0939 – Suspicious vehicle in Loyalton – TRA CHP
1118 – Possible wildfire near Sierraville – TRA SCF
1516 – Suspicious circumstances Dog Valley Summit – RPT SCSO
1632 – Investigation in Alleghany – ACT SCSO
1703 – Theft reported in Downieville – CIT SCSO
2048 – Vehicle stuck in Long Valley – TRA CHP

4/12/19

0614 – 9-1-1 request for ambulance in Loyalton – TRA LOAM
1213 – Request for Deputy contact in Loyalton – RPT SCSO
1613 – Large boulder on Hwy 89 near Kyburz – TRA CALT
2029 – Request for ambulance in Loyalton – TRA LOAM
2203 – Welfare check needed in Downieville – TRA DVAM

4/13/19

0121 – Static calls 9-1-1 from Clark Station – CNC SCSO
1018 – Disturbing the peace in Sierra City – CNC SCSO
1416 – 9-1-1 report of propane leak in Loyalton – TRA LVFD
1535 – Suspicious vehicle at school in Downieville – UTL SCSO
2344 – Cite for out of county warrant in Loyalton – CIT SCSO

4/14/19

0229 – Family disturbance in Sierra Brooks – CNC SCSO
0844 – Motion alarm sounding in Sierra City – CNC SCSO
1208 – Metal chair on Hwy 49 in Downieville – UTL SCSO
1448 – Medical emergency at Loyalton Skate Park – TRA LOAM
1819 – Abandoned vehicle near Long Valley – CNC SCSO
1855 – Suspicious vehicle near Bordertown – CNC SCSO

District Attorney Cases 4/17/19

CRIMINAL CASE UPDATE WEEK ENDING APRIL 12, 2019

People v. Joseph Frank Shelby (CR03960)

On April 9, 2019, Joseph Frank Shelby, age 49, of Stockton, was convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol, Vehicle Code section 23152(b) [misdemeanor].  Shelby was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on January 20, 2019 when a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic collision on Interstate 80.  Shelby was sentenced to two days jail; placed on 3 years informal probation; ordered to pay a fine; and attend DUI school.

People v. Randy Scott Calvert (CR03942)

On April 9, 2019, Randy Scott Calvert, age 25, of Truckee, was convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol, Vehicle Code section 23152(a) [misdemeanor].  Calvert  was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on December 1, 2018 when a vehicle he was driving was involved in a traffic collision on Interstate 80.  Calvert was sentenced to two days jail; placed on 3 years informal probation; ordered to pay a fine; and attend DUI school.

People v. Peter Henry Hatch (CR03947)

On April 9, 2019, Peter Henry Hatch, age 69, of Sierra City, was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, a violation of Penal Code section 290( c) [misdemeanor]. The arrest came following an investigation by the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office. Hatch was sentenced to 90 days jail; 3 years formal probation; ordered to pay a fine; and to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290.

People v. Levi Hyde-Beverage (CR03971X) 

On April 12, 2019, Levi Hyde-Beverage, age 25, of Loyalton, was convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a minor at least 10 years younger, Penal Code section 288( c)(1) [felony].  The arrest came following an investigation by the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office. Hyde-Beverage was sentenced to 141 days in jail; 5 years formal probation; payment of a fine; and is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290.

People v. Bryan Derek Madsen (CR03873)

On April 12, 2019, Bryan Derek Madsen, age 29, of Citrus Heights, was convicted of driving on a suspended license with two prior violations of driving on a suspended license, Vehicle Code section 14601.1(a) [misdemeanor].  Madsen was sentenced to 10 days jail, 3 years summary probation; and ordered to pay a fine.

Social Justice Poetry Contest 4/17/19

826 National is excited to announce that students across the country will have the chance to become published poets in 2019!

In collaboration with Amplifier and inaugural U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, we are now accepting student submissions for a Poets in Revolt! poetry anthology, scheduled for publication in fall 2019.

Submissions are open to ANY student writing poetry in response to different social justice movements and/or participating in the Poets in Revolt! lesson on 826Digital.com

Educators: Have your students written social justice-inspired poetry in your classroom? CLICK HERE for a chance to help your students become published poets!

You may also draw inspiration from our 826 Digital lesson plan, Poets in Revolt!, written by 826CHI’s Ola Faleti. This lesson ties together historical and contemporary mentor texts and challenges students to draw meaningful connections between poetry and diverse social justice movements.

Students: If you have written social justice-inspired poetry, CLICK HERE for a chance to become a published poet! For inspiration, you’re welcome to check out our 826 Digital lesson plan Poets in Revolt!, featuring an introduction by Amanda Gorman. Know a friend with a powerful poem the world needs to hear? Help us spread the word and send them this link.

We can’t wait to read your revolutionary words.

SCOAEC & HCC Meet 4/17/19

LOCATION CHANGE

We have a scheduling conflict with the USFS Facility and will be moving the Meeting & Training to the Old Sierraville School just down the street.

Sierraville School
305 S Lincoln Street (HWY 89)
Across from the Post Office
Sierraville CA 96126

Next Tuesday April 23, 2019 will be the regular quarterly joint meeting of the Sierra County Operational Area Emergency Council (OAEC) and Health Care Coalition (HCC) at the USFS Sierraville Ranger Station, Carl Scholberg Meeting Room at 10am.

Immediately following the short meeting the training/exercise for Transition from a Single Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) to Disaster Response During a Wildfire will commence, ending around 4pm.

A lunch break is planned – on your own. There is not a kitchen at the facility, but people are welcome to bring lunches.  A couple restaurant options are open in Sierraville as well.

Joint Meeting OAEC and SCHCC Agenda for 4-23-2019 SCHCC_OAE Minutes 2019-1-22 4.23.19.SIERRA COUNTY MCI TRAINING

FireHouse News 4/17/19

“AT THE FIREHOUSE”

ALLEGHANY: April 8th Firefighter training. April 9th Mutual aid response for Camptonville, for an overturned propane truck, at Hwy.49 & Ridge road – cancelled. April 13th Training with Camptonville Fire Department, to prepare for a future live burn fire.
CALPINE: April 11th Responded for a wildfire on Hwy. 89 – turned out to be a burn pile.
DOWNIEVILLE: April 8th EMT Continuing education. April 10th Fire Association meeting. * Mutual aid response to Sierra City for an ill male,who was air lifted to the hospital in Reno. April 12th SFMR meeting at the Masonic Hall. * Responded for an illegal construction burn – it was put out. *Responded for an ill male – not transported.
LOYALTON: April 8th Ambulance responded to assist a patient with an altered level of consciousness. *Firefighters trained on sustained attacks using fire hydrants. April12th Ambulance responded to assist a person with a “cut off” toe, who was bleeding heavily. April 13th Firefighters trained at the Quincy Fire Academy #16, on hose & hydrant relays. * Hazmat response for a commercial building with a propane leak.
PIKE CITY: April 8th Firefighter training. April 9th Mutual aid response for Camptonville, a propane truck was overturned at Hwy.49 & Ridge Rd. April 10th PCVFD Board of Commissioner’s meeting. * Mutual aid response to Camptonville,for a person crushed by a vehicle, and was air lifted to the hospital. April 12th Mutual aid response to Camptonville for a Wildland fire – cancelled. April 13th Firefighter training in Camptonville,to prepare for a future live fire burn.
SATTLEY: April 11th Responded for a wildfire on Hwy.89 – turned out to be a burn pile.
SIERRA CITY: April 10th Responded for an ill male, who was air lifted to the hospital in Reno.
SIERRAVILLE: April 11th Responded for a wildfire on Hwy.89 – turned out to be a burn pile.

Self & Nation 4/17/19

At Risk—the Idea of America  – by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Perhaps the most damaging legacy of the Trump years is the disservice he and his associates are doing to Americans’ sense of self and nation. In ordinary times there would not be much debate about what it means to be an American or what are American values. Every school child learns these things: It’s Civics 1. Race, class, and gender identity have always been important, but generally they have been subsumed under a larger identification with the nation. “We’re all Americans, we all share the dream, we live in a land of opportunity.” But under Trump identity politics has come to the fore, pushing aside the tenets of liberal democracy and respect for diversity, and replacing them with right-wing white nationalism framed by a (false) populist (i.e., anti-establishment) political agenda, a narrowing of opportunity, and mean-spirited discourse.

Liberal intellectuals uniformly denounce that agenda but they differ among themselves, as the latest issue of Foreign Affairs shows, about whether or not racial, class, and other identities promote or undermine national unity. Those identities are critical to maintain in the face of unequal treatment, yet the (liberal) nationalists fear they will undermine a focus on repurposing America. A related debate is evidently taking place at the state level. In Michigan we learn that public school educators are arguing over whether curricula should describe the American form of government as a republic or a democracy, with implications for how civil society and social equality are taught. These debates reveal just how uncertain the idea of America still is.

So long as these debates persist, America will have no special claim to being an enlightened example to the world. Instead, America will remain divided, consumed by antagonisms between races, classes, and gender, and by contending nationalisms, rather than propelled by demonstrating how a pluralistic society is able, through consensus politics and democratic choice, to surmount differences. Chalk up these painful debates to Trump’s intentionally divisive way of governing, which he relied on to get to the White House and is relying on again to stay there.

The closer we get to November 2020, the more vindictive, threatening, and desperate Donald Trump will become. Witness, for instance, not just his preparedness to use illegal means of stemming immigration, but also his more frequent accusations of “treason” against anyone who defies him.

Bottom line for me: The Democrats need a candidate who, like Obama in 2012, will speak passionately on behalf of national unity as well as on the virtues of diversity and the restoration of democratic rule.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

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