Law and Citizens 7/13/16

The other day Museum Docent Karen Laux, former Sierra County Undersheriff David Marshall and me, a former Sheriff’s Office employee were sitting in front of the Downieville Museum talking about some of the heart breaking recent events in the world. David asked us what we saw as a solution to the ongoing issues between law enforcement and race inequality.

You could see the smoke rising as we  all started thinking… it isn’t an easy solution to answer. I blurted out training, Karen mentioned hiring officers who were not overly aggressive, we meandered through our ideas for awhile and I asked David, well what would your solutions be?

The first thing he mentioned was Community Policing, I immediately remembered how important that was during the twelve years I worked for the SO. Sheriff Lee Adams, Undersheriff Marshall, Sgt. Lou Foxworthy and Sgt. Steve Peterson were my superiors and community policing became an important part of all training for Deputies and Correctional Officers.  We lived and worked in the communities we served. The idea of an  “us versus them” was discouraged. In the Jail the inmate we were booking and charged with might be our neighbor who would be working alongside us during an emergency in the community.

Undersheriff Marshall said the importance of living in the community you work in may be most important. You get to know people and understand the issues affecting their lives. This is easier in a rural community, in a urban area there are clear definitions between low, middle and high income housing areas, based on the cost of housing and it would help if those who worked would move into a troubled area.

I pointed out the natural struggle of us all is to move ahead, live in a better neighborhood, give our kids more, and be able to enjoy life without adversity, David said he understands that and Community Policing where law enforcement (LE) was involved in the community, possibly have small substations in neighborhoods with an open door policy of welcoming the residents and get to know each other, to have LE involved in activities, sponsor basketball and baseball, soccer clinics.

We the community need to be open and welcoming to our law enforcement people, help them to get to know us and be part of the neighborhood. Smile, wave, be inviting and courteous at all times. We may not always agree but we can all get along with a little more than a little effort.

DeVita Editorial 4/27/16

Take Back Sierra County Government

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors passed a group of ordinances April 19, 2016. The ordinances represent a complete reversal of the county’s previous position on medical cannabis of a year before.
The process from which the ordinance was produced was very badly flawed. During what was supposed to be a public hearing, Supervisor Adams argued with citizens, accepted no input, and made it clear he was taking unilateral action.
Only Supervisor Peter Huebner declined to support the ordinance, for the reasons we all should insist on: it didn’t follow proper process, and it wasn’t fair.
The new ordinance will have many negative effects on our community. Two of common concern are property rights and due process.
The new ordinance, in an attempt to bully citizens, gives enforcement unreasonable powers, including the power to retroactively cite for something that is no longer there. It allows the county to come on anyone’s property at any time for any reaon.
Both members of the Board and members of law enforcement have agreed that the new ordinances will produce more crime, and will likely increase environmental degradation.
The environment takes a further hit when the Board sends medical cannabis patients inside, with indoor grows. If all patients and caregivers do as the Board intends, the negative impact on the environment from greenhouse gases will outweigh any benefit the ordinance might have had.
I will sign the referendum because the process by which the ordinances should have been determined was flawed; we were denied due process.
I will sign because property owners are harmed.
I will sign because the environment will be harmed.
I will sign because patients deserve to grow their medicine.
I will sign because I believe in liberty.
Laurenc DeVita

Laurenc L. DeVita MA

DeVita Editorial Response 10/7/15

Thank you for reading the Fringe in the Prospect, and thank you for taking time to comment.

The tragedy in Oregon does nothing to impact my remarks, and instead actually demonstrates the reason I wrote that section.

From your comment, it seems to me what really bothers you is death. That is a different subject, but I could have added to my article, “I don’t know why people have to die.” Except, we all know people have to die, don’t we?

In all our long human history, having a weapon has made the difference between being a victim and surviving. Whether it is a rock attached to a stick or an AK47, a weapon changes the equation in an emergency situation.

This is why the right to keep and bear firearms is listed in the Bill of Rights; these are rights we have, important rights like freedom of speech and assembly and freedom of religion.

What you object to, I think, is death. But, really, very few people are murdered with firearms in the US; and only a few of those are mass shooters. We have 320,000,000 people in the US: the world’s third largest population, and we have 100,000,000 million firearms, yet only about 12,000 people a year are murdered with firearms. A few thousand more are killed by police, in self defense, or under other circumstances. More than half of firearms related deaths are suicides. Japan essentially has no firearms, and yet their suicide rate is far higher than ours: clearly firearms don’t cause suicide. Further, I think suicide is a personal decision, and not something the government should stop; most state laws agree with me.

If we want to think that “even one death is too many” then we aren’t very realistic. People die from bathtubs, from concrete steps, from aspirin, from hands. We can’t stop death, and if we did, there would be no life left between the rules and laws.

If what you hate is death, you’ll consider that the greatest number of people killed in a school mass murder was generated not with firearms, but with bombs. Now, take every mass shooting, and give the killer bombs instead of firearms. In Oregon, some people lived simply by saying they weren’t Christian; could the killer have exercised that restraint with a bomb? In Germany, for instance, a man in a school killed 10 and injured 22 with a home made flame thrower and a piece of steel on a pole. Stealing our right to own firearms won’t prevent what you obviously object to: human suffering.

If death is our enemy, let’s look at this instance closer. The shooter singled out Christians in a way that is becoming typical of terrorist attacks of this nature. Why would anyone want to kill Christians in the US? Perhaps because of all the death we deal in the Middle East?

What if our problem isn’t firearms, what if it is that we are a violent nation, one that imprisons more of its people than anywhere else, one where the wealthy have recovered from the recession but the average person hasn’t, one where a White man with a high school diploma will likely earn more over his lifetime than a Black man with a four year degree? What if mass shootings were just symptoms of violent, war like nation in the throes of social change? Will taking my firearms away remedy any of that?

I live in California, one of the worst states for an honest person to buy a firearm. It is humiliating, expensive and time consuming; states all around us allow free trade in firearms and suffer no worse from it. The list of firearms we can’t have is much, much longer than the paltry list we may have. None of this changes anything except that it makes criminals out of decent people who did nothing except be ignorant of a draconian and ineffective law. Every year the California legislature nibbles away at our firearms rights. Each year, they pass harsher and harsher laws, though nothing changes. Most likely, all the worthless laws you might like to have passed are already in effect in California.

In truth, murder is down across the board in the US. However, politicians and those who would like to see us helpless use tragedies like the Oregon terrorist attack to drive good people like you not with logic, but with emotion. You hate death. They know that. Rather than link the death to our badly dysfunctional society, they want you to link it to my grandpa’s old shotgun. In my view, people who capitalize on this kind of tragedy are no better than the people who send drones to kill civilians in other lands. Oh, wait, it is the same people, isn’t it.

Registering firearms is virtually the same as confiscating firearms. History is full of examples, from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Plains of the United States. First locate the firearms, then take them, then do as you wish to the defenseless. Before you disarm your neighbors you should be absolutely certain of two things: first, that the sheriff’s department can get there on time, and second that our government can never fail. It is unlikely you can assure me of either case.

I hate death, too, but I especially hate the deaths of people I know and love. Anti-gun nuts claim a firearm in the home is more likely to kill someone in the home than an intruder, but that becomes much less true if you allow people the right to end their own lives and deduct suicide from “violent gun deaths”, which I think should only mean actual violence. It becomes even less true if you deduct drug dealers who know each other and shoot each other at home, and so on. For most people, who keep a firearm in a responsible manner, it is safer than many items commonly found in the home.

We were given the right to have and use firearms to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and, if need be, our nation. American hunters represent the world’s largest army, armed and ready. It doesn’t seem important now because we dedicate literally billions of dollars to a standing military, but it was citizen soldiers that freed our nation from the British. Should the government no longer have billions, we could do it again.

So, I have to stand by my original sentiment: I don’t know why people want to steal a civil right from their countrypeople when what they really should do is address the social issue of violence in American, from our warmongering government, to our increasingly violent cops, to our hideous passion for death and misery in our entertainment. If you could just keep the government from using guns and death as political policy, that would save lives abroad, too.

I don’t know why you don’t do that.

Lesniak VS Wittner 6/17/15

Editorial Response by Paul Lesniak to the 6/10/15 Column by Lawrence Wittner

For a website that declares itself the source of “All Things Sierra County”, the Prospect is sure heavy with imported, neo-marxist agit- prop coming from people who more likely than not have never set foot in the surrounding zip codes.

It reached a crescendo this past week with the publication of “Will Americans Vote for a Democratic Socialist?” by someone named Lawrence S. Wittner, a professor of history at State University of New York / Albany.

The accompanying photo reveals a bespectacled, hirsute, and somewhat gaunt denizen of the faculty lounge right out of central casting.

Mr. Wittner enthusiastically supports the presidential candidacy of the one declared socialist in the US Senate, the grizzled and stooped 74 year old bolshevist throwback from the People’s Republic of Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

He goes to great lengths to separate socialism from its less user friendly cousin, communism, which is simply ‘pickin’ pepper out of flyshit’ because Karl Marx stated unequivocally that the goal of the former is to soften up the population for the imposition of the latter.

Mr. Wittner sings the praises of the socialist ideal, conveniently ignoring the staggering body counts and economic and cultural degradation of societies who have implemented the socialist / communist governmental paradigm.

He also fails to note that governments all across the socialist / communist spectrum have been abandoning their attempts at re-engineering human nature and have turned to functioning capitalist approaches because they have, as Margaret Thatcher predicted “run out of other peoples money.”

But I guess we can’t blame this city slicker that resides three thousand miles away for being ignorant of the fact that right here in beautiful California, the American interpretation of the socialist ideal is fully realized and functioning.

Wittner does do something quite helpful when he cheers the success rabble rousing socialists have had in infiltrating such public arenas as race relations, women’s rights, employee unions public and private, the educational establishment, open borders advocacy, and the environmental movements.

Because of there successful infiltrations, California is now a one party state, with its progressive politics dominated by the overwhelmingly Democrat voting major coastal population centers.

This has produced completely predictable results.

Income inequality has never been higher, especially in the wealthy and overwhelmingly white coastal areas where we now find near feudal levels of have’s and have nots.

Middle class and lower income families, usually of color, are being squeezed out of those areas by astronomical property values and ever increasing rents.

These property values have predictably skyrocketed because of relentless opposition to any and all forms of construction or development, all in the name of protecting the environment.

Away from the Golden Coasts, the onerous environmental dictates popular with the coastal elites have all but killed extractive industries and the industrial manufacturing base.

They have also turned great swathes of some of the most productive farmland the world has ever known into a desert wasteland to insure the survival of an insignificant bait fish.

With those industries associated jobs rapidly disappearing, the California middle class is now an endangered species, save for those receiving government paychecks.

California’s public employee unions are the most powerful political entity in the state.

Woe betide any politician who dares to challenge their power.

Their outsized influence is direct result of the channeling of portions of their taxpayer funded paychecks into coerced union dues, which then flow into the campaign coffers of the elected officials on the other side of the bargaining table.

This effectively seats public employee unions on both sides of the negotiations, able to elect or remove those who either enthusiastically support or dare to oppose their programs.

The predictable result is an entrenched and unaccountable bureaucratic behemoth that enjoys generous pay, benefits and retirement packages unheard of in the private sector, which are now underfunded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Because of relentless bureaucratic interference from these same employees of government agencies seeking to justify their existence, California has the most hostile business environment in the United States, some of the highest state income and property taxes, and coincidentally, the highest percentage of those living in poverty.

Unemployment rates in the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and Sierra High Country are routinely in double digits, and often exceeding 20%.

Despite this high unemployment rate, California’s Southern border is virtually open, flooding the state with low skilled and barely literate immigrants who drive real wages down and are stretching the states tattered social safety net to the breaking point.

California spends more money on its schools than almost any other state in the nation, yet consistently ranks at or near the bottom in teacher effectiveness and student performance.

Crony capitalist back scratching is the order of the day in Sacramento, with connected insiders routinely strip mining the state treasury under the guise of serving the people.

What is clear is that the progressive / socialist dream is in full effect here in the formerly Golden State, with completely predictable results; racial and class division, out of control and unaccountable state bureaucracies, unrestricted immigration and crippled commercial activity, while connected insiders, their crony enablers and dependent elected and appointed government officials and employees live in luxury, laughing at the chumps.

Socialism is indeed here, and it is working exactly as planned.

If you ever wonder why when a perfectly normal high school kid is shipped off to the university, and comes home for holiday visits wearing a Che T-shirt and quoting from Mao’s little red book, you can thank agenda driven historical revisionists like Lawrence S. Wittner.

Things Will Get Worse 11/5/14

A Facebook Posting I fear may come true…..

So, what have we learned from this election? We’ve learned that Republicans truly don’t believe in democracy. True democracy means, among other things, that everyone should have the right to vote, and be enabled to vote. Republicans have spent millions on making sure that people who might oppose their viewpoints don’t have that opportunity. We’ve also learned what Republicans are AGAINST: President Obama. (Of course, they made that clear the moment he stepped into office, and have made opposing anything he proposed — whether it was good for the citizenry or not — their goal over the past six years.) What we haven’t learned is what Republicans are FOR; that’s because they spent this whole election cycle pointing out how bad President Obama is, and how terrible are the things he has, somehow, managed to accomplish. And, what are those things that the Republicans think are so terrible? Provisions for health care for several millions more citizens. A lowered unemployment rate, and a nation that is digging its way out of the economic disaster that the previous administration had left as their domestic legacy. A commitment to an environmental future that offers some hope for our children and theirs, and the generations to follow. These are the things that are anathema to Republicans. And, it is the overturning of all these things to which Republicans are committed now that they control Congress: you just have to listen to the soon-to-be Senate majority leader to know this is true. So, for those of you who think that things in this country have been bad under the current president (set aside for the moment the fact that the Republicans in Congress the past six years have made it almost impossible for anything positive to happen), let me now predict that things are about to get much, much worse. Paul Guffin, Downieville

The DeVita Speaks 10/29/14

Schooling Jerry on the Wet Stuff: Prop 1; let’s see the dollars

by DeVita

Laurenc DeVita

Laurenc DeVita

The ballot is next week; there are likely to be few surprises.

We all know Prop 1 is going to pass. People are so certain that some have already laid down their principles and are ready to stick their hands out, on the theory that, as long as it’s going to happen to them anyway, they might as well make a little money. How could the Prop not pass? It has a big purse and has promised something to just about everyone. People who think water is wasted in the ocean (I could do an entire editorial just on this) are getting dams; people who like little froggies are getting some conservation stuff; Central Valley farmers get more water (they use more than 80% of the state’s water); the cities get to keep growing. They even threw 50 cents at hazard fuel. Jerry did his homework and this thing is a masterpiece. Prop 1 money is good at the bank right now.

And that gives Jerry a perpetual sweaty pink glow. With money like that he can leave the legacy his old man failed to, kind of a creepy GWB thing going on there. He’s going to give money to everyone.

Ooops, almost everyone! The places where the rain and snow fall, places without big cities to gulp the water up, we don’t get so much. That’s where Jerry is flubbing the fondle. He needs to come up and spend the day with the boys and girls who live up here. We could school him on what makes the creeks flow. And, we could tell him how to use his new ill gotten gains to good purpose. I have the following recommendations.

How to have enough water in California

1. Save our asses! I prefer trees to cities, but it’s pretty clear more water would go down the rivers if there weren’t so many trees in the watersheds pumping it out. True, they put it in the air to make rain elsewhere, but this is about our rain. The trees are far too numerous and far too close together. A lot of growth is on steep hillsides where only fire can easily reach it.

Here’s the picture if we’re ignored: eventually all the hills will be burned. The air quality will plummet under the weight of carbon and soot in the air. The soil, stripped of trees, will now wash down the steep slopes into the creeks, which will leave their banks from accumulated forest debris, ash and mud. How do you like your water now?

Sure, it’s expensive to cut on steep hillsides and haul the biomass hundreds of miles, but you have SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS, Jerry! This is a good investment. It is also part of the the cost of the debt you incurred for using our mountains to clean your air and catch your water.

Forest biofuel is renewable, but not very green. A sincere effort at removing excess forest biomass includes running it through a cogen plant. You have the money, make it happen. Mastication is good for the forest, and should be a first choice for smaller material, but larger mass needs to go off site. Maybe the same trucks could haul the minerals and ash back to the forest.

2. Pay us for not piddling in the river! It sounds disgusting, and it is, but humans have a long history of agreements with upstream folks not to do some things in the river. More than that, we actively care for the mountains, both as landowners and as residents. Our economy was once tied to the rivers, now our destiny is tied to them. State laws require more of us and give us less and less in terms of regulations and codes. If the state can discourage us from traditional uses, it can pay us for the loss. A tax of a couple of cents for every gallon leaving the water producing counties for the Central Valley and areas south. It will keep us from prostituting our lands and our kids to exploitative businesses. Most of all, charging down stream users a realistic price for water will do more than low flow toilets to reduce water use. Conserve water, or pay the hillbillies more. Also, paying us in conservation grants is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about cash money deposited to the counties to build long term sustainable rural industry.

3. Reverse “county of origin water rights”. Currently, a county of origin can claim water rights only to encourage development. If you want to live in a city, go to one. Development, as has been demonstrated, is not sustainable; indeed, the person who coined the term “sustainable growth” was a mathematician who meant it as a JOKE. Give counties the power to keep more water in the watersheds without development.

4. Go cold turkey on the drug of perpetual economic growth. California persists in boasting the “eighth largest economy in the world” but at what price? Can we boast if we only have the 12th largest economy? The end has to come sometime, or LA will cover the state. Going green means more than driving a Prius and using solar panels. There is no way to negate the impact of population on the environment, or population density on political power. In short, greed is driving the demise of what we love most about California. Institute policies which reduce growth in the most densely populated areas first, and then tax populated areas for their uses of open spaces, such as cleaning air and water and mediating weather, and use that money to help unspoiled communities to keep local control of land use and keep land values high enough that they don’t become meat for developers chased from cities. It’s a little hard to grab all that. I would ask him to take out his smart phone and go here:

5. Pay your bills. With all of that drug money (in this metaphor the drug is water, but in truth the drug is always and only money) maybe you can shake money loose somewhere else and pay your bills to the counties. Pay for Fish and Wildlife land; pay much more to communities around state parks. Pay back everything you “realigned” and, since Sacramento made the laws which created so many prisoners, take your prisoners back, too.

Prop 1 is no doubt a done deal; let’s see how much of that $7 billion sloshes this far up the mountain.

You Are Wrong DeVita 7/30/14

This week the Fringe DeVita explains why western Sierra County has to stop expecting too much on our health care.  After all he says, “many towns bigger than Downieville” don’t have what we have`. He minimizes the service area which is all of western Sierra County including many resorts, campgrounds, summer home tracts, 6 well established towns Alleghany, Pike City, Goodyears Bar, Downieville, Sierra City,  Green Acres and many outlying homes scattered along Highway 49 and side roads. In the summertime the population triples in size.

He is right about the problems that are hurting the clinic, “policies and economics “determined in another more populated county. The Downieville Clinic does not need the massive staff and overhead costs of the Nevada County site. The Clinic in Downieville needs the support of the locals using it as Primary Care, use it or lose it. We need a full time provider and 2 or 3 Nurse Practioners who are willing to rotate for some of the 24/7 urgent and emergency care. If we were an independent entity again we could use the same medical billing company that Downieville Ambulance does for billing, we would need assistant LVN’s or RN’s  to help the Providers, a secretary/receptionist, the phone calls for after hours clinic assistance could go through the Downieville Fire Department who are able to reach the provider immediately. There are overhead costs of course, payroll, taxes, insurance and all of these things need income, income provided by the Affordable Healthcare Act, everyone has insurance, provided by smaller grants for smaller facilities. Nevada County needed the 850,000 “330” grant but there are many grants, endowments and other sources of fundings to seek if it was directed at our small Clinic.

Unfortunately one source of friction right now is the difficulty in understanding why the Downieville founding source of the WSMC has been the stepchild who has to clean the ashes out of the stove for some gruel to be tossed to them. It has been suggested that Downieville residents are responsible to raise money, write grants, get  funding to support our Clinic. Which makes me and others wonder, are the citizens of Grass Valley and Nevada City being asked to do the same for their site.  We are asking for one provider 5 days a week, and some rotating relief personnel to help cover the 24/7 urgent and emergency care.

Lauren Alderdice, FNP, Flene Folsom PA-C, Lora Lee Grutkowski, FNP,  Heather Lucas-Ross, MD, Elaine Lundy, MD, Galen Martin, MD, Celia Sutton-Pado, MD, Glenn Thiel, DO are all Family Practice/Family Medicine at the Grass Valley WSMC.

Lora Lee Grutkowski FNP will be working in Downieville 4 days and week including the Clinic off hours for urgent and emergency care. Celia Sutton-Pado was recently given a contract to be the Sierra County Public Health Officer which is for 8 hours each week but doesn’t really involve any Downieville clinic work right now.

Meanwhile in Pediatric Care there is Michael Curtis, MD, Kris Jessen-Mathers, RN, PNP, Joseph Lambert, MD, Douglas Wagner, MD and Sarah Woerner, MD  at Grass Valley WSMC.

Then there are J. Alberto Chavez, DDS, Elizabeth Miltner, DDS and Justin Pfaffinger, DDS for dental care in GV-WSMC, Dr. Chavez is up here one day a week and I heard it will soon be two days, we can only hope.

Let’s move on to Behavioral Health, Kelly Cirner, MSW, Tracy Deliman, PHD, Karen Higgins, MD, Jennifer Sale, LCSW all at GV-WSMC.

Case Management/Nutritionist Jerusha Horlick,RN ; Diane Miessler, RN, Danielle Yantis, Dietician, MS at GV-WSMC. and last but not least is Maternity Health: Vanita Lott, RN and Midwife and Wendy Paye, RN .

So there are 25 medical staff on their website.

Let’s look at Executive Management, all salaried personnel : CEO Scott McFarland, CMO Glenn Thiel, CFO Tom Morrisey, DD Justin Pfaffinger, COF Francine Novak;   CIO Dan and PDD Cheryl Rubin. To be fair,Thiel and Pfaffinger see patients too, I think.

Of course there is the Management Team: Office Mgr Leo Avelar, Director of Clinical Services, Jennifer Edwards, RN, and Exec Admin Asst. Jessica Fraser and Downieville Clinic Manager C.C.Gelatt.

The Board of Directors:Sierra County residents: Larry Allen, Tim Beals, Jon Peek, Don Russell and Brandon Pangman, Nevada County Residents: Florence Lyss, Anita Daniels, Derek Williams, Scott Browne, Katherine Medeiros (also CEO at SNMH), Richard Kuhwarth, Jeannie Medley and Lupe Peterson

So where is the money going and if we merged why don’t we have the same service here. We don’t need the same service, we need the basics, what we have always had. We need Primary, Urgent and Emergency care in western Sierra County 24/7. We are not asking for the moon. In Grass Valley, in addition to the WSMC site there is  a plethora of doctors and dentists, urgent care centers, a hospital and emergency room. In all of western Sierra County we have the WSMC Downieville Clinic…. come on… we are not spoiled. Grass Valley needs to stop whining about how costly we are and start facing who is really sucking up the money… and it ain’t us.



Why Not? 7/2/14

“Don’t ask why, ask why not.” This quote said in different ways by both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy has reverberated for me in the past four weeks when I hear some people say that the citizens of western Sierra County are “spoiled”, that we think we are “entitiled”, that no other rural area has health care available at “our beck and call” and that we should not expect 24/7 emergency health care or even a clinic with scheduled appointments for 5 days a week.

We are lucky, 38 years ago, Frank and Bette Jo Lang moved to Sierra County to provide healthcare to this rural frontier community through the auspices of the National Health Corp. They stayed, raised three sons and developed the Western Sierra Medical Clinic in Downieville into a state of the art facility with cutting edge care and capability. Staffed by Family Nurse Practioners overseen by a Medical Director, assisted by Registered nurses, Nurse Practioners and LVN’s, WSMC provided medical and dental care to the residents, visitors, inmates at the county jail.

The questions are; why is this unusual in America? Why is there even a thought that we are wrong in expecting this kind of responsive health care? Why would anyone suggest that we should be satisfied in regressing to a situation, as many rural areas experience, as having no immediate health and emergency medical care available? I don’t understand this kind of thinking.

Not only should we maintain and continue to enhance our health facilities in the county, we should be advocating and helping those areas where needs are not being met.

The Downieville Western Sierra Medical Clinic created standards of excellence and set an example for others to follow, we should not allow this standard to be trampled into the dust because “other rural areas don’t have clinics why should you” mentality.

So stay strong, chin up, be proud of what we have and let’s do everything we can to continue another 38 years of successful health care in western Sierra County.

Wise Words of Alan Grayson 7/2/14

I recently received a letter from Alan Grayson who is running for U.S. Congress in Florida. Following is an excerpt that I found so interesting I decided to share it with you. I think this is a guy who absolutely should be part of our U.S. Congress.

“And now on to something that I need to get off my chest. This past week, to absolutely no fanfare whatever, the last declared chemical weapons left Syria. (Isn’t it interesting how the drums of war earn endless media coverage, but the dove of peace flies unnoticed?) I say the “last declared weapons” because those are the only ones that we know about, but any evidence of undeclared chemical weapons in Syria is even harder to find than any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So as far as anybody can tell, all of the Syrian chemical weapons are gone.

And this was accomplished without U.S. military intervention in Syria.

I was very outspoken about my opposition to military intervention in Syria – outspoken in seven national TV interviews in a single day, and over 40 media interviews in four days. I said that Congress would not authorize war against Syria, because the Administration’s military plans were costly and dangerous, they would not achieve any strategic purpose, and they would not and could not eliminate those chemical weapons. And I was right. If the Administration’s war plans had come to a vote in the House, they would have been defeated by a margin of roughly 10 to 1. Because the American public spoke up – people like you spoke up.

I understand that there are some who think that the threat of Congress authorizing military action is what drove Assad to relinquish chemical weapons. I’ve always been skeptical of that argument, since there were five different public counts (including one at the Washington Post ) all showing that House opponents of military intervention outnumbered supporters by 10 to 1. Anyone with internet access could find that out, and I assume that Assad has internet access. Did Assad relinquish those weapons because his command-and-control structure had broken down, and he could no longer control when and where those weapons were used? Or because he was afraid that they might fall into rebel hands, because so much of his weaponry already had?

In the words of two great (albeit fictitious) military strategists, Francis Urquhart and Frank Underwood, “You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Now think about this: What if we had gone to war against Syria last year? We would have:

(a) hit the Syrian regime hard, and
(b) delivered the Syrian chemical weapons into the hands of ISIS.

Yes, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The ones whom the Administration is helping the Iraqi Government to fight. Those are ones who crucify and behead their enemies. Picture what they could do with poison gas.

So my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Unless it’s my enemy. And what about my enemy’s enemy who also is my friend’s enemy, even though my friend is allied with my enemy?

As far as I can recall, I’m the only one who pointed out last year that just because you’re hurting the bad guy (Assad) doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re helping the good guys, or whoever passes for that in Syria these days. I remember one national TV interview in which the interviewer asked me whether we should be helping the Syrian rebels. I answered, “Which ones: the Al Qaida graduates, or the anti-Semites?”

The German military strategist Carl von Clausewitz understood this problem well. He referred to it as “the fog of war.” Here is a translation of what he said:

“War is an area of uncertainty; three-quarters of the things on which all action in war is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty, to a greater or lesser extent. The first thing needed here is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth, with the measure of its judgment.”

Or to put it as Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did, ironically in the context of explaining why we never found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

“There are known knowns; there are things that we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

President George W. Bush wasn’t exactly a “fine, piercing mind,” and so in the search of those nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we flushed roughly 4,000 American lives, 400,000+ Iraqi lives and $4,000,000,000,000.00 down the you-know-what. After that lesson, I was hoping last year to see some “fine, piercing mind” emerge from within the Administration during the debate of U.S. military intervention in Syria. But I was disappointed. It was more along the lines of “let’s just toss in some missiles, and see what happens.”

One of the greatest unknowns in war is in knowing – or really, not knowing – what effect your own actions will have. On that subject, we must turn to yet another great military strategist, Yankees Manager Yogi Berra:

“It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a lesson that our leaders need to take to heart. To which I offer this sequela:

When in doubt, PEACE.

Courage, Rep. Alan Grayson “

DeVita Won’t Accept Subservience 3/26/14

A Question for the Boardfringe logo

A Fringe Inquiry from DeVita

The drought declared by California Governor Jerry Brown not only alerts us to how serious the current drought is, with its attended increase in fire danger and decrease in meadow grass, it also contains a harbinger of more lasting problems with the state.  The declaration weakens water rights, a constant and reoccurring threat to the North from the over populated South of California.  The threat against our water rights joins other problems foisted on the county by the urban South, including unworkable building codes and county mandates.  Living under laws made for the populated South is driving people out of the rural North.

I realize the County Board of Supervisors has very little power over the state; if they did, they might be able to get the state to pay the money already owed the county.  I also understand that the Board sends members to important regional organizations, and it writes stern letters to various state officials when it seems it might help.  The Board is as active as reason would allow in trying to defend county residents from the tyranny of the South.  Even so, can we ask the Board, isn’t it time to make a stronger statement against Sacramento, and against the tyranny of the South over the North, to witness and demand a change?

I don’t denigrate the efforts of RCRC and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, nor the efforts of the Board to directly impact legislation at the state and sometimes even the federal level.  Those are efforts we must maintain.

But, isn’t it time to join other Northern California counties in a direct and unmistakable message to the South and take part in the movement to start the State of Jefferson?

Most people know the State of Jefferson found its first effort in the days just before World War II, and the war derailed further action then.  Named after our most famous Founder, Thomas Jefferson, the state would be formed from counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon.  The effort reflects a reality which was apparent even 70 years ago: urban areas are a drain on rural areas, they wield an unfair but inevitable power over their citizens in the rural lands.

The State of Jefferson isn’t the only effort to separate the rural North from the South; there have been many attempts to split the massive area called California into more manageable and accountable chunks.  Those efforts have all failed.  Likely, this effort will fail, too.  It will fail because, to pull away from California and form a state with Southern Oregon, the legislators of the states would have to agree.  I think we know that the people of the urban areas are not going to let go of their water resources, or of their recreation opportunities.  Even so, we must try.

We have also heard how much Southern California gives to the impoverished North in terms of funds for social services and roads.  In truth, the South takes from the North, not just taxes and fees, but resources.  The effort to break free and form a new Western rural state probably won’t succeed, but if it did, we would have little to fear.  The money has always come with strings attached.

I believe we have to try because not trying will doom us to continued serfdom, with no chance of relief.  If we form a concerted effort with the other counties of the North, our voice will gain strength.  Maybe we can’t wrestle free of the South, but maybe we can wrest a better relationship, one that recognizes that the North and the South have different cultures, and different needs.

The second reason I believe it is important to sign on to the Jefferson effort is if we don’t, if we quietly accept our subservience to the South, we are complicit in our own exploitation. To remain silent is to agree.  I can no longer agree in silence; I hope you feel the same way.

The Board would join other Northern California counties: Glenn, which just signed on, Modoc, and Siskiyou, and Humboldt and others are considering.  Let’s not be the tail of the horse, heading out the gate, let’s join the front.

The question now is not so much “if” Sierra should join, but “when,” and the answer must be “why not now?”.

I ask the Sierra County Board of Supervisors, will you join the effort to help liberate the North now?

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