Sabena’s Journey to Kenya

Sabena Lodhi, daughter of local business owners, Naseem and Humayoon Lodhi, will be traveling to Kenya, Africa, later this month.  Sabena will be volunteering in the town of Ngong, which is an outskirt suburb of Nairobi, where, she will be working with ten-to-sixteen year old students.  She will be teaching general education courses, such as History, Art, and Health Education.  She will also be teaching Women’s Education to those affected by HIV and AIDS.  This program includes counseling and education development, as well as empowering women with skill-training in both trade work and business management.  When asked what she is looking forward to, Sabena said, “Experiencing third culture and seeing the smiles on babies.”

Sabena will be volunteering abroad for six weeks, starting at the end of June, through an organization called International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ).  IVHQ formed in early 2007, with the intention of making volunteering in developing countries safe, affordable, and a high quality experience.  Through first-hand volunteering, Sabena will be able to take her knowledge and expertise to this developing country, while bringing understanding and knowledge of a different culture back home.

A fundraiser is being held to raise funds for books, school supplies, and other school necessities.  The event is being held on Tuesday, June 18, 6:00 pm at Two Rivers Café.  The cost is $13 per person for an Indian Style Buffet Dinner, including soft drinks (beer and wine is extra).  Both meat and vegetarian dishes will be available.  Please come and join in the fun, ask questions, and support Sabena on her journey to spread hope, knowledge, and love to Kenyan families.  There is also a website where you can donate to Sabena’s cause, and read, in her own words, about the things she hopes to give and gain:

Support My Journey To Kenya

Join us for an Indian Style Buffet Dinner. All Proceeds will go towards books, school supplies, and any other necessities for the local schools in Kenya. My goal is to spread love, hope, and knowledge to those in need and view a different perspective on life through the eyes of Kenyan families.

Much Love and Gratitude,

Sabena Lodhi

Date: June 18, 2013

Time: 6 pm

Place: Two Rivers Café

Cost: $13 per person (includes soft drink. Beer and Wine Extra)

Welfare or Education? 6/12/13

Corporate Welfare or Education?  America’s Public University System

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Lawrence S. Wittner

Lawrence S. Wittner

Should a public university be transformed into a corporate welfare project?  That’s the key question surrounding “Tax-Free NY,” a new plan zealously promoted by New York State’s Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo, with nation-wide implications.

Under the provisions of his Tax-Free NY scheme, most of the 64 campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY), some private colleges, and zones adjacent to SUNY campuses would be thrown open to private businesses that would be exempted from state taxes on sales, property, the income of their owners, and the income of their employees for a period of 10 years.  According to the governor, this creation of tax-free havens for private, profit-making companies is designed to create economic development and jobs, especially in upstate New York.

Joined by businessmen, politicians, and top SUNY administrators, Cuomo has embarked on a full court press for his plan.  Tax-Free NY, he announced, was “a game-changing initiative that will transform SUNY campuses and university communities across the state.”  Conceding that these tax-free zones wouldn’t work without a dramatic “culture shift” in the SUNY system, Cuomo argued that faculty would have to “get interested and participate in entrepreneurial activities.”  As he declared in mid-May, the situation was “delicate, because academics are academics. . . .  But you can be a great academic and you can be entrepreneurial, and I would argue you’d be a better academic if you were actually entrepreneurial.”

In fact, the commercialization of American college and university life has been advancing steadily in recent years.  Thousands of U.S. students are paid by businesses to market products on their campuses, large numbers of university presidents serve on one or more corporate boards, administrators sport new titles such as Kmart Chair of Marketing and BankAmerica Dean, and for-profit universities now dot the American landscape.  Indeed, some universities run their own industrial parks, venture capital funds, and joint business-university research centers.

Even so, Tax-Free NY appears to be an important milestone in the corporatization of higher education, for SUNY is the nation’s largest public university system.  Only a few years ago, New York State law prohibited businesses from operating on SUNY campuses.  But that barrier has been swept away, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is now a leading cheerleader for Tax-Free NY.

SUNY’s faculty and staff, on the other hand, have a greater stake in preserving the university’s traditional role of education and the advancement of knowledge.  United University Professions (UUP), the union that represents 35,000 faculty and other professional staff on SUNY campuses, has been disturbed for years by the state government’s abandonment of its legal commitment to fund public higher education.  Over a four-year period, SUNY lost nearly $700 million in state support through budget cuts, and state funding has remained flat over the past year.  Today, nearly 75 percent of the university’s operating budget comes from ever-rising tuition and fees.  A decade ago, the state covered 75 percent of SUNY’s budget.

Naturally, then, UUP has promised to fight against this latest assault on the university. Rejecting Tax-Free NY, it argues that any available space on SUNY’s campuses should be dedicated to improving education through smaller class size and improved student services, that there are no assurances that business entities would support the academic mission of campuses, and that the tax-cutting plan would diminish tax revenues that could be used for public education.

Also, there is considerable doubt that Tax-Free NY will spur economic growth.  The Citizens Budget Commission, a business-backed group, has reported that New York State already spends about $7 billion annually to foster economic development without any evidence that this funding has been productive.  The Alliance for a Greater New York, a group with a liberal orientation, has noted that, in the past year, the state gave away $490 million to businesses for projects through its Industrial Development Agencies.  Of these projects, half failed to create any jobs and another quarter lost a total of 17,000 jobs.  Criticizing Tax-Free NY,Crain’s New York Business, a leading commercial publication, stated that “history tells us these kinds of strategies don’t work.”  During the administration of Republican George Pataki, “the state created Empire Zones . . . with special tax breaks and incentives. . . .  No area ever showed any real economic gains.  They were eventually phased out when it became clear they had achieved virtually nothing.”  In addition, these economic development programs were riddled with abuse and fraud by unscrupulous companies.

As a result, significant criticism of the governor’s plan has begun to emerge.  The small Conservative Party — a key ally of the Republican Party — formally denounced Tax-Free NY, arguing that “government should not be deciding what businesses receive government handouts that give them advantages over other businesses.”  Journalists asked the governor what would stop the favored companies from simply packing up and leaving after their decade of tax breaks.  According to the president of the Civil Service Employees Association: “The governor doesn’t get the fact that more corporate welfare is no answer to New York’s economic challenges.”

Why, then, despite the obvious limitations of Tax-Free NY, is the governor promoting it so vigorously?  One reason, some observers contend, is that Cuomo is a very ambitious man, with his eyes on a run for the White House.  Determined to win re-election by a huge margin, he needs to strengthen his sagging appeal in upstate New York to do so.  In addition, Cuomo has been closely allied with the state’s corporate leaders, who have poured millions of dollars into promoting his pro-business agenda.  Championing tax cuts to business helps cement this alliance.

Ironically, it’s quite possible that the governor could spur economic growth and job creation if he just reversed his proposal.  Instead of throwing more tax dollars at profit-making businesses while starving public education, he could channel that same money into the SUNY system.  In this fashion, he would help build the kind of university that, through its intellectual excellence, would foster advanced scientific experimentation, economic innovation, and a highly-educated workforce.  But that’s not at all his plan. Corporations, politicians, and educators across the country are watching closely.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner ( is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany and writes for PeaceVoice.  His latest book is “What’s Going On at UAardvark?” – a satire on the corporatization of higher education.]


A Little Leak 6/12/13

More leaks in the faulty national security debate – and how to fix them

By Patrick T. Hiller

Patrick T. Hiller

Patrick T. Hiller

A little leak can be quickly fixed by stuffing it or wrapping it. Large leaks, however, often require more structural repairs or completely different solutions. Bradley Manning’s and just days ago Edward Snowden’s leaking of classified information demonstrates just how big our structural repairs need to be. What they exposed are further indicators of the faulty framework of the national security debate. In other words, a poorly designed security construct is collapsing. We discuss the acts of those individuals on a sliding scale from “nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize” to “try them for treason” – I opt for the first. Distracted by character debate, however, we are missing opportunities to engage in more meaningful discussions about the faulty structures they exposed.

We are operating out of the perpetual fear that evil is out there to eradicate the United States of America. The government’s guiding foreign policy principle is to keep the American people safe (, and in doing so the military and intelligence agencies are overstepping legal and ethical boundaries in an outdated understanding of security. While very few would argue against the need of security – in fact it is a shared basic human need for everyone – we are constantly missing opportunities as a nation to re-define security.

Security, particularly national security, unfortunately is defined in relation to military power and its global projection. A fact worth repeating is that we are spending as much as the world’s next 15 countries on our defense (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). It is too much and it does not serve our national defense. Our country is not under attack. There is no clash of civilizations or a battle between American freedom versus the perceived darkness of an Islamist world.

For the sake of having the security discussion let us look at the war on terror and the perpetual terrorist threats which led us into two real wars and are driving the current security conversations. The most recent leak of confidential governmental information was that of Edward Snowden, a computer analyst working for the private government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. He revealed the existence of PRISM, a clandestine electronic American national security surveillance program designed to identify terrorists. More than that, PRISM appears to be highly invasive of the privacy of all citizens in an unprecedented collection of data, the full extent yet to be revealed. Instead of resorting to science fiction surveillance tactics out of George Orwell’s novel 1984 through PRISM and “pre-crime” enforcements tactics out of Steven Spielberg’s film Minority Report through drone strikes, we have an opportunity to resort to real science in our responses to terrorism. The bottom line is that we now understand patterns and dynamics of violence and ways of constructive conflict transformation. And quite frankly, the strategies and tactics employed by our government are not constructive pathways toward eliminating terrorism.

Scientists studying the causes and consequences of war offer multiple nonviolent responses to terrorism which are part of an evolving global system of peace. Effective nonviolence, international adjudication, conflict resolution, peace education, indigenous rights, smart sanctions, non-governmental organizations and effective humanitarian work, peaceful interpretation of religious scriptures or human rights are just a few real trends accompanied by proven approaches to move them forward. John Paul Lederach, a pioneer in the peace and conflict studies field who teaches at the University of Notre Dame, suggests that nonviolent responses to terrorism should be based on engagement rather than isolation – particularly of civil society. Those strategies allow for solutions over the mid-term and long-term which are more likely to address the root causes of the grievances. Imagine the new horizons that would open up.

A talented computer analyst like Edward Snowden would not need to fear for his future and life for acting out of his conscience and could be put to work on creating sophisticated early warning violence prevention networks. Our aeronautical engineers could design, manufacture and program drones for tornado warnings, disaster relief or atmospheric research. Then we don’t need to have discussions about the perpetual war on terror, drone strikes, Guantanamo Bay, or the manufactured fear of an established Islamist state. Then we are indeed strengthening an evolving global peace system, which is not based on utopian thinking but based on numerous trends of constructive conflict transformation, social change and global collaboration.

As to security, we can re-define security as a more positive role for the United States in the world rather than constantly preparing for war and going to war in the name of freedom. That is not only patriotic and demonstrates love for our country, it addresses the human need for security of all.

Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., Hood River, OR, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.

Wednesday June 5, 2013

Gosh, here it is June. Why am I continuously surprised when another month rolls around? We are almost half way through the year and starting on the way to winter snows. You won’t know that this weekend when it will be hot, hot, hot and I will be in the thick of the Valley heat at my youngest grandson’s high school graduation. What a mile stone. Certainly there will be college graduations, and I’m hoping one or all of my three grandsons will be married and eventually I will have great-grandchildren… that will be exciting… wait a minute… this is making me sound very old… well old is as old does.. but the point is, many families across the nation will be celebrating graduations this weekend and I wish all the new graduates the best with love, joy and laughter in their future.

It is fire season already, very dry, very hot, be very careful and thank our local fire department and sheriff office members who are busy all year long but in the summer with lots of visitors and many ways to need emergency response are busy to the max. Be nice to everyone and don’t let the heat get you. Watch out for rattlesnakes, many have been spotted around the County.

This week the photo is by Don Costa at Mike and Karen Galan’s  serving their Cherry Tree in Downieville to the bear. All our favorite columns are here, over on the right.

Board of Supervisors June 4, 2013


Sierra County Board of Supervisors

Sierra County Board of Supervisors

Chair of the Sierra County Board of Supervisors Scott Schlefstein called the meeting to order at 0900. After the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call and Agenda approval the Public Comment Opportunity for items not on the agenda was met with silence.

Committee Reports and Announcements included a report by Supervisor Lee Adams on the Finance Committee meeting and the tough issues facing the county. They met with the CCP folks and also recommended approval of the Preliminary Budget on today’s agenda.

Department Managers report was given by Director of Public Works and Planning, Tim Beals who said they were still waiting on the Department of Fish and Game (I reminded him it is now Fish and Wildlife, we don’t have to kill everything) for their stamp of approval on the Sierra Brooks Water System. Beals also informed the Board they are waiting for USFS to make a decision on Title II funds as Prop 40 projects have been completed on the east side of the county however the Alleghany, Downieville, and Sierra City parks and Kentucky Mine water are still waiting. Then the USFS update didn’t happen as no one from the USFS appeared.

Item 1 through 5 began with Health and Human Service Director Janice Maddox continuing her complex reasons for the inability to provide the Sierra County Summer County Youth Programs  although she has written another letter with complex and confusing questions  to the State asking whether the State Alcohol and Drug Program  will allow use of State SAP funds for the summer recreation programs.

Maddox’s husband, Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector/Risk Manager/Personnel Director Van Maddox has written his letter to the Board stating that with “what he knows” he cannot verify that state and federal funds are spent in accordance with laws, regulations and agreements… so his office can not sign off on contracts or issue checks… so it appears that what Maddox wants Maddox gets…. which Maddox is the question…

The final decision appears to be the County will not be providing any kind of summer recreation program for the youth of Sierra County.

Here's the students that will be most affected by the Supes decision to slash funding for WC…one last hurrah hike in Lakes Basin for students from Loyalton Middle School...

Somewhat ironic to find a photo of kids having one last hurrah hike in Lakes Basin for students on their last week of school… no recreation for them this summer……

Item 2 is an Agreement between Tahoe Adventures Company and Sierra County to provide services for the 2013 SC Wilderness Challeng Program contingent on approval of use of State SAP funds. There is no agreement as there is no funding source.

Item 3 is a proposal to schedule a Bd of Supes Health and Social Services Standing Committee meeting to discuss Mental Health billing and funding: Governor Brown’s proposal to Sierra County 1991 realignment funding currently utilized to fund mandated services; and issues related to H&S lease for office space located in Loyalton on Front St.  Yep, they will do this as according to Director J. Maddox they need to have a venue to keep board updated in a formal way because there is an agreement with the City of Loyalton to sell a building and spit the profits and this needs to be rethunk. It is a huge issue. Supervisor Beard agreed to set something up.

Item 4 is authorization to recruit and fill a vacant Case Manager I/II position in the Department of Mental Health.  This Item was pulled by Director J. Maddox.

Item 5 a letter opposing redirection of Sierra County 1991 realignment dollars. Supervisor Adams said CSAC is adamantly opposed to this and Sierra County needs to take a strong stance and he moved to authorize Chair Scott Schlefstein to sign the letter. It was approved.

Item 5G was pulled off the consent agenda  It was about a Lease Agreement for office space for the Fiscal Year of 2013-14 with Richard and Sharon Elorza and The County of Sierra. Supervisor Adams suggested this was about leases countywide, Adams specifically discussed the Sierraville School lease. According to County Counsel either party has the right to terminate with 30 day notice. Director Beals said the entire school is leased to the county with the exception of the modular and the school district has agreed any rental income from the modular will be available to the County for upkeep and maintenance of the main building.

Item 6 County Assessor and Information Manager Laura Marshall requested funding to increase the county internet line from 3 MB to 6 MB (a good idea). It was approved unanimously by the Board. A big selling point was the ability to train county personnel with Webinars which is much less costly than having to travel out of county for seminars. The increased MB will double the cost but is within the budget and not going to need extra funds.

Item 7  A Resolution requested by  County Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector/Risk Manager/Personnel Director Van Maddox makes one wonder if he wants to add the title of Chief Scrooge when contemplating his request to close county offices to the Public (that’s us, the voters and service users and parents of summer recreation kids) one day a week. After much debate and back and forth discussion as to what problems this will cause for people needing to get service from the county offices and after Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector/Risk Manager/Personnel Director Van Maddox said if someone absolutely needed assistance he would open the door and help them as he wouldn’t want to bother the employees who actually have to do the work. Seemed odd to me, considering the disparity in pay between an employee and the department head as to who’s time costs the most…. but hey, I am just a constituent, what do I know. So the final word was yes, to avoid confusion and for consistency every county department must close their doors to the public (us) one day a week and that day will be Thursday.

Item 8 A Resolution setting the County and special revenue funds preliminary budget for fiscal year 2013/14 requested by Scrooge Maddox. This went on for quite some time. Supposedly the prelim would be good at least through July and August but who knows what will happen and we need time to decide which street lights really need to be lit.

Director Tim Beals discussed the county Roads Budget suggesting the lack of SRS  funding could put us below the safe and secure standard of service. The rollover funds on paper make the budget balance but no one has any idea what will really happen and what will be the function and place of the Road Dept if it can no longer support itself. Supervisor Adams moved to approve the paper “fake” prelim budget until we find the real truth about the fake rollover.

The Board of Supervisors adjourned to then adjourn as the County Service Areas Board.

County Service Area Board issues were approved

and then the County Board of Supervisors reconvened and:

Item 12 Discussion/adoption of Resolution approving proposed solid waste budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 request by Public Works and Transportation Director Tim Beals. A long discussion was involved as to how much the Solid Waste fee should be increased. Finally settling on an amount that would increase the fee from the current $231 to $265 per year, it was not voted on and will come back to the June 18 meeting.

Item 13 Review of recommendations of Public Works, Road, and Solid Waste Committeee meeting pertaining to Solid Waste.  with a) direction on dispersed recreational waste generated on national forest lands. and b) discussion and direction to staff with regard to recommendation on the tourist bin at Bassett’s OHV station.

Director Tim Beals brought up the unique way the USFS and other recreational users deal with waste as there are no bins established near campgrounds and trails and the county containers are used not only by tourists and visitors but by seasonal and even full time residents who are “too lazy or too cheap” (stated one Supervisor) to drive to a transfer station or to pay for Trash hauler. Meanwhile bags are being checked and there was a discussion as to how to deal with residents who are filling county sidewalk containers with household waste. Some supervisors wanted to just go for it and have them cited for illegal disposal and some supervisors just wanted a friendly chat. It was pointed out that we are all paying the costs of those who refuse to dispose of their waste properly. But here is the warning…. Names will be taken and your waste DNA will be tracked.

Item 14 Amazingly the Resolution modifying the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Grant expenditures is back.. And once again it was approved…

Item 15 Resolution authorizing changes to the approved personnel chart to add the series of permit technician and authorization to advertise and fill the upcoming vacancy in Planning and Building Department was approved.

Item 16. Chair Schlefstein appoints Rebecca Kincaid to the SC Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board with everyone’s approval.

Item 17 County Counsel James Curtis presents 2nd reading and adoption of an ordinance amending portions of Part 3 of the Sierra County Code pertaining to changes to pay dates; PERS retirement provisions ofr employees; base station designations; designation of County holidays; and the drug testing policy. It was approved.

Item 18 Modification of Agreement No 2010-086 with NorCal EMS for EMS services withing Sierra County designating Northern California EMS, Inc as the local EMS agency was approved.

Item 19 (Wow an employee friendly thing) Resolution authorizing Extra Help Employees participation in County Health Insurance. ( I think the Affordable Health Act requires them to do this). Oh Guess What… it was pulled by County Counsel to amend some things… I knew it was too good to be true.

Item 20 is a Closed session (We never know what they are doing.)

Jim Branhamof the Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Jim Branhamof the Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Item 21 is Sierra Nevada Conservancy by Jim Branham in regard to investments in Sierra County.  A clear concise overview of what the SNC does for Sierra County was given by Mr. Branham and if you go to their website here Sierra Nevada Conservancy you will learn as much as I did, they appear to be doing a good job and bringing money into the county via grant funding.

22. Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship with regard to current activities and projets within and around Sierra County, Including update on economic benefits of outdoor recreation. A heart felt presentation was given by Downieville’s own Greg Williams who discussed how many communities were benefitting from downhill biking and that if the County of Sierra and business folks would step up to the plate to promote and increase our trails we would all be in the money. Learn more about SBTS here Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship

Mr. Wayne DeLisle preparing for his turn at the Podium

Mr. Wayne DeLisle preparing for his turn at the Podium

23. Our favorite constituent Wayne DeLisle appeals the Solid Waste Assessment Fees on two of his properties in Pike. Unfortunately Mr. DeLisle wasn’t feeling well as he has had some recent health issues and asked that his appeal be continued for 90 days. Assessor Laura Marshall said that Mr. DeLisle had the right to his appeal and the Board voted unanimously to approve the continuation for 90 days.

Item 16a The best for last of course. An Addendum to the Agenda was the last item heard. There was a discussion/direction/approval for the assignment of emergency service radios to the members of the Board of Supervisors requested by Chair Scott Schlefstein. Apparently at a meeting of the various emergency services in and surrounding Sierra County communications during an emergency was discussed and Chair Schlefstein brought back the idea that emergency radios were necessary for the Supervisors. Despite objections from Supervisor Lee Adams, who has served 4 terms as County Sheriff and prior to that as a Deputy for Sierra County, some Supervisors thought this was a good idea. Schlefstein felt he needs a radio in case someone asks him a question during an emergency, he needs to answer it. Also it would be a good idea to have a radio during a personal emergency (recently, according to Schlefstein Sheriff Evans had an accident while riding motorcycles with his son and had to use his radio to call for help) which of course made me think I want a radio too… what if a rattlesnake bites me or my friend Tom when we are out walking, we need radios, and what about you, yes you, the reader, you might need to call for help, you should have a radio…. but wait I am digressing here. Anyhow Scott thinks he really needs a radio even though he won’t use it and he understands the Chain of Command and Incident Command System and he won’t tell anyone what to do over the radio. He knows better, so he says. So at any rate by a vote of 3 to 2 with Supervisors Adams and Roen voting no, radios will be purchased at $1,200. each and given to the three Supervisors, Schlefstein, Beard and Huebner … life just isn’t fair.


The Mountain Messenger (real paper news) 6/5/13


Don Russell, Editor of the Mountain Messenger often uses any method possible to sell advertising and subscriptions to California’s Oldest Weekly Newspaper. Many people fall for his spiel and he then has to continue writing his pithy articles filled with words he passes off as news. Several steps above Fox News and not quite to the standard of the New York Times, many famous people read the Messenger. If you are famous, and read the Messenger please let me know because then I can make a list. Don is not willing to divulge the names of his famous readers.

6/5/13 When all else fails, Editor Don Russell attempts his sexy come hither look in an attempt to sell more subscriptions. It usually works, and then he just has some explaining to do to Irene.....

6/5/13 When all else fails, Editor Don Russell attempts his sexy come hither look in an attempt to sell more subscriptions. It usually works, and then he just has some explaining to do to Irene…..

Send anything you need published to Jill at  Of course you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Jill) or the machine. Keep jobs in Sierra County read the Mess.

For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Tell Don, you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

mess subcrip


Jerusha 6/5/13

Volume V # 258

June 5, 2013

Dear Jerusha,sc004bb0b5

We are going to Graduation events this weekend and are wondering about gifts. Are you supposed to bring gifts to graduations? Some graduates sent actual invitations and then others didn’t but I was wondering what is the protocol for gift giving. What do you do about gifts?

Sincerely, Ralph Limstine, Sierra City


Dear Ralph:

Interesting you should ask that question as I just finished writing graduation cards with gifts this morning. I too, wondered about the graduates that didn’t actually send an invitation and yet I will be attending. It is very confusing. My rule of thumb is if you want to give a gift give it, if you don’t then don’t. I love giving gifts it is almost as much fun as getting gifts. At any rate what I do is accept any gift I get  graciously and appreciate it very much. You really should be asking your wife about this, she would know what to do. Unless of course you are not married and then take my advice as I am single and not married too. Well, Happy Graduation Day.

Sincerely, Jerusha

Do No Harm 6/5/13

Fracking: First, Do No Harm

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

By Robert Dodge

Our country is addicted to oil and gas. In recent years the technique of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, has gotten greater attention, both positive and negative. It is a Trojan horse, sold to us as a way to become energy independent, provide local jobs, and stimulate the economy. As an MD, I need to note that the disease, death and destruction of fracking outweighs its appeal.

Fracking is a process where a large amount of water is mixed with sand and/or chemicals that are then injected deep underground into rock formations, fracturing the geologic formations to release petroleum, natural gas, or other substances for extraction. With today’s technologies horizontal bores can be drilled for miles away from the well.

 While the precursor to modern fracking has gone on for decades, the potential health and environmental risks associated with today’s fracking methodologies are significant. Since federal laws have failed to prevent fracking pollution and groundwater contamination so severe that some rural wells are now producing flammable water that literally burns, states like Illinois have been faced with attempting to regulate it.

 Modern fracking across the country is so water-intensive it uses some seven billion gallons of water annually in just four western states—North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado—mixed with massive amounts of a “chemical cocktail,” many of which are known cancer-causing agents, in addition to other kidney, liver, neurologic and respiratory toxins. The industry has refused to provide the identity of many of these agents under a “trade secret” law, though studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used. This lack of transparency and inherent “trust us” attitude is suspect at best in an industry that has brought us oil spills, pipeline breaks, and environmental degradation with their associated health impacts the world over.

 This process is also premised on the assumption that there will be no cross-contamination of groundwater aquifers, demonstrably false. This assumes a leak-proof “plumbing” pipeline without mention of the potential for surface ground and air quality toxin contamination. It also fails to deal with the handling and detoxification of the millions of gallons of contaminated fracking water that result.

 This new fracking is happening around the country and currently is being planned for California’s rich underground petroleum deposits. The California  legislature is currently developing the oversight laws to regulate this industry. Senate Bill 4 authored by Sen. Fran Pavely passed the California Senate on Wednesday. Unfortunately this law does not protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens from the chemicals being used in fracking and even has the potential to gag physicians from revealing the impacts of fracking chemicals to their effected patients and consulting medical colleagues under threat of being sued by the oil and gas industry as their “trade secret” gets out. This gift to the oil and gas industry is unethical and forces physicians to break their Hippocratic oath. Yet this already is the law in states like Pennsylvania.

 When it comes to safeguarding the public health, anyone who has the potential to impact it would be well served to abide by the medical dictum of “first, do no harm.” As a family physician my responsibility is to protect the health of my patients and community. What is to be an acceptable risk for cancer and health risks of these toxins? Is it 1 in 10,000, 1 in 100,000? Who will decide? The oil and gas industry? In addressing incurable illnesses it is better to prevent what we cannot cure.

 At the same time that we pursue fracking, our efforts are diverted from the bigger picture and the more pressing need to move away from our dependency on fossil fuel and toward the development of renewable forms of energy. Scientists tell us that of the existing carbon-based fuel in oil, gas and coal global reserves we can only consume ~20% before we reach the tipping point for catastrophic climate change and its resultant health implications. Without shifting the paradigm in energy sourcing, it is not a question of energy independence or whose fracking project is more favorable but more realistically a question of whose match will light the final fuse.

 We have a limited time to get ahead of this process and work for real solutions to our energy needs while simultaneously protecting our health and environment. This is a time for the people to lead and the leaders to follow.

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace FoundationBeyond WarPhysicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, and writes for PeaceVoice.


Downieville Class of 2013 Graduates 6/5/13


The Downieville Senior Class of 2013 will be presented with their diplomas Saturday, June 8 at 12 noon. Principal of Downieville Schools Derek Cooper will welcome friends and family after the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. The Guest Speaker is Cheryl Durrett. Mr. Cooper will introduce Valedictorian Marie Ellsworth and then Hannah Ford will present the Class History.

The Class of 2013 will give their personal thanks to their families Cheryl Durrett and David Pittman, Rushell and Leslie Baker, Paula Hester, Jerry and Belinda Ellsworth and Shelly and Dean Fischer.

They thank Mr. Hardeman, Mr. Cooper. Mrs. Mongola, Suzi Pangman, Mr. Corcoran, Mr. & Mrs. Fillo, Mr. Perry, Miss Schofield, Mrs. Schofield, Mrs. Salva, Cathy Stewart, Peggy Daigle, Kathy Fischer, Cheryl Durrett, Cracker Eshleman, Tom Schumann, Greg & Docia Bostrom, Barbara Weaver, Laurie Marsh and Miss Wanless. The Senior Class appreciates the generosity and continued support of the entire community of Sierra County.

This year the Class of 2013 paid for the beautiful planter boxes at the bottom of the school hill, for Riata Hester’s senior project.

the  Scholarships and Awards (listed below Class Photos) will be presented.

Brandon McDermid

Brandon McDermid


Riata Hester

Riata Hester


Marie Ellsworth

Marie Ellsworth


Hannah Ford

Hannah Ford

Leslie Baker

Leslie Baker


Barbara Marshall Memorial Award presented by Mason and Tanner Pangman

Downieville Sports Booster Club presented by Michelle Anderson

E. Clampus Vitus  presented by Bob Gray

CSF Award presented by Lynn Fillo

Downieville Fire Department presented by Chief Lee Brown

Skiers Hikers for Outdoor Enjoyment presented by Gerry Gates

Mountain Star Quilters presented by Bette Jo Lang

Assembly of God Award presented by Hillary Lozano

Folsom Family Award presented by Earlene Folsom

Snowbusters presented by Lynn Fillo

AVID Award presented by Lynn Fillo

Class of 1963 Award presented by Karen Galan

Downieville Lion’s Club Award presented by Mike Galan

Sierra City Fire Auxiliary Award presented by

Sierra County Employee’s Association presented by Bryan Davey





Fringe Says No News For You! 6/5/13

The News that Tells us Nothingfringe logo

Thomas Jefferson was a visionary, and like many visionaries, was poor at actualizing his own vision.  He wasn’t a great president by many measures, and violated his own words many times.  Even so, Jefferson borrowed and synthesized many humanist and progressive ideas, and gave us some significant political insights.

One was the power of the press. Jefferson is credited with some very contradictory thoughts about the press.  As president, he suffered a lot of heat from the press; then as now the press was largely controlled by capitalists and federalists who wanted a strong central government.  Jefferson said that a person who reads nothing knows more than a person who reads a newspaper.  Even so, Jefferson strongly believed in a free press and said that a nation with newspapers and no government is preferable to a nation with government but no press.

Still, we have to credit Jefferson with a clear vision of how the press can be used against the urge to freedom and good governance.  He stated that a person who reads nothing is better educated than one who reads the newspaper.  He was referencing the discrepancy between what a free press could be, and what it typically become.

The idea that citizens need to be well informed to instruct their governors springs from the idea that citizens are the final authority in the nation.  We need to know what goes on to form an opinion; public opinion drives the government.

The vital flaw is that the press can be manipulated to form public opinion, an idea of manufactured consent that psychologist Alex Carey put forth and Walter Lippman and later Noam Chomsky developed to describe how market forces create a press that has a normative function.

We easily see how this works: purveyors of media in the U.S. have tremendous power to form opinion, and indeed, to direct our gaze.  In turn, our gaze has a financial value for the media; they get dollars for our attention.  Traditionally, the press has had an adversarial role with government in free nations, acting as watchdog for the public.  However, this role makes the press extremely valuable to government and corporations.  The press is reliant on government sources for information.  Likewise, corporate dollars fund the media to direct our gaze.  The illusion of a free press is powerful, causing citizens to imagine that what media directs our gaze to is important, and the perspective it gives us is informative.

But, American citizens are not generally critical thinkers.  Particularly in the age of the constantly connected, citizens trust their media with making important choices on content and perspective.  But information and “truth” in perspective are far more slippery concepts in practice than in our dogma and sound intentions.

Though a good newspaper will attempt to be objective, the process of deciding what constitutes news, what information to provide, constraints on sources of information, the order and presentation of possible opposing views make real truth finding difficult or impossible.  Even so, a good article on an important subject is often hard to find, while media coverage of some events is disproportional to it’s importance to the nation.

We consider the “sinking of the Maine” and the power the image had to predispose the nation to war with Spain.  What Pearl Harbor was to World War II, the sinking of the Maine was to the war with Spain.  The Japanese did, indeed, attack Pearl Harbor; it is unlikely the Main was sunk by Spain.  Even so, the Hearst newspapers made much of the event and it is often viewed as pivotal to the cause of war.  Likewise it has been suggested from historical evidence that Britain and the U.S. knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was likely, but delayed action because they underestimated the strength of Japan’s ability and wanted to push the U.S. in to war with Japan.

Likewise, the commandeering of commercial airline flights and the destruction of buildings as the World Trade Center changed history in the U.S., giving birth to a new level and style of intelligence and law enforcement.  It has become fashionable for politicians to talk of sacrificing liberty for greater security.

As other wars occupied citizens, the new war, and the new America which as arisen as a result of the nation’s response to the destruction of two high profile buildings and the deaths of 2,700 people.  Though other nations have endured actions against civilians as the result of public policy, known as “terrorism”, the United States responded in a convulsion of social change.

To be clear, the World Trade Center did not represent all Americans, only the most wealthy.  However, it was treated as an attack against all Americans by the media, which enjoyed the public attention for months over the event.  It predisposed Americans to accept the idea of greater government control over individuals.

Since September 11, 2001, the mainstream press has typically supported the build up of military and intelligence technology used within our borders and against Americans.   There have been occasional hand wringing in the mainstream press about the militarization of local law enforcement and massive purchases of automatic weapons and ammunition by department of fatherland security, and some small notice of the blooming of the several intelligence agencies who are spying on Americans.  People who rely only on mainstream media for news, though, typically know nothing about the spreading power of the federal government.

Likewise, popular entertainment frequently features programming which glorifies the militarized government, making the idea of heavily militarized “authorities” moving about in the midst of average citizens, directing them and “protecting” them as though our people were sheep and the various kinds of cops were sheepdogs.  The threat of terrorism and personal violence is magnified by such “entertainment”, causing the average person to feel afraid of strange, dark forces that they are powerless against, and only the government can effectively deal with.

There is still news to be had, on the internet.  But, increasingly, internet news providers are being marginalized, harassed or even arrested.  The free press that Jefferson envisioned is far more clearly represented in the margins of media, small market newspapers and blogs, than my mainstream media.  Unfortunately, since there are fewer wealthy sponsors for the unpleasant truth, they don’t have the resources, nor the contacts, that media which enjoys the support of government and corporations do.  Those who find sponsorship, for example, Democracy Now, find themselves constrained in their point of view.  The positive effect of a widespread free press is that one can get some news from the Left, and some from the Right.  The critical viewer or reader knows the truth is in there somewhere, most often where the two poles agree.  Currently, for example, The New American, a whiz-bang Right Wing rag often agrees with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now on issues such as domestic use of drones, the dramatically increased powers of the Executive Branch created by the “Patriot Act” and NDAA.

As bad as the media is about directing our gaze to create consent for government actions, it is worse at distracting our attention with nonsense.  The average television viewer likely know more about the fortunes and foibles of passing celebrities than about how their representatives are voting, or the results of the volumes of laws they pass.  Note the graphic which outlines what we should be concerned about, and what the media features for us.  It’s not an exhaustive list, nor is it very sophisticated, but it does outline the nature of the problem.  Unfortunately, I have no idea who the author of this graphic is, I would provide a link.

why we know nothing

It’s up to the news consumer to make good choices about what goes in their brain, when there are choices to make.  Mainstream Media have people on staff to jigger the material present to please the animal parts of our brain.  More than 50 years of research has produced a product which mesmerizes, but doesn’t educate.

It’s also possible a lot of people have made the assumption that it’s too late, the nation is going where it is going and there is nothing they can do to prevent it, so they might as well watch reality TV instead of wrestling with actually reality.

I’ll suggest that we are not likely to shake off our torpor and begin demanding a better information and better governance.  Until then, a person who watches no mainstream media knows less than a person who  watches nothing.

Good Luck!  We’re going to need it.

Cooter (he’s a good dog) 6/12/13


Look, the nose doesn't lie; the trail stops here therefore there's a squirrel under here.  Now, it's just a waiting game.

6/12/13 Look, the nose doesn’t lie; the trail stops here therefore there’s a squirrel under here. Now, it’s just a waiting game.



Can you spot the free, happy dog in this photo?  No?  That's right because he's a free, happy dog!

6/5/13 Can you spot the free, happy dog in this photo? No? That’s right because he’s a free, happy dog!

Gabby Fringette 6/5/13

Run, the salami sandwich is going to kill you

by Gabby Fringette

Salami is a European way of storing meat, originally made by peasants because they had little fresh meat.  It stores well, even at room temperature.

We like to eat salami because it has salt, fat, and taste smoky.

Even farther back than the peasants of Europe, when our ancestors didn’t normally live past thirty, in the time of Neanderthals, humans and Neanderthals ate whatever they could find. They ate things vegans would approve of, like roots, nuts, and greens, but they also are rotten meat.  Some of the rotten meat was fermented, and we like this stuff more than just rotten.  The fermented stuff kills lesser bacteria that kills us.

Then, over hundreds of years, it turned into the salami, ham, and sausage we know and love today.

Now for the bad part.  As it turns out, the smoked and fermented stuff kills us too. But it takes longer to kill us than it does the bacteria.

In a study conducted in Europe, with half a million participants, people who had more than 20g of bacon, salami, sausage or other processed meat were twenty percent more likely to die of heart disease, or cancer, than vegans were.

A different (smaller) study found that people who ate red meat were thirteen percent more likely to die of cancer or heart disease.

Bummer, huh?

As if that’s not enough, the smokey flavor in salami can cause cancer too.

Nobody noticed back then because something else always got them.

Studies also found that people who ate lots of salami, bacon, ham, sausage, and all that tasty stuff were less likely to eat fruits and veggies, exercise less, and drink and smoke more.  Maybe some of the heart disease and cancer was caused by the lack of exercise and all that booze.

But still, to much is bad for you.

Moderation is the key, (but I am not giving up salami!)

Downieville School Art Show 6/5/13


There was an art show at the school Tuesday evening hosted by Alicia Schofield and Katie O’Hara Kelly. 
Ms. Kelly works at the school and is funded through the Artists in School Program…through the Sierra County Arts Council.
The art lessons are in sync with the unit being taught…so for instance for the South American Unit there were a number of different projects using different mediums including birds, painted snakes and such.  For the Fairy Tale unit there were castle/dragon/king/queen pictures. 
The event was well attended by grandparents, parents, community members and students.  A dessert buffet was served. 
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Weekly Warrior by Leslie Baker & Marie Ellsworth 6/5/13


Weekly Warrior

By: Leslie Baker & Marie Ellsworth

         It is the last week of school and the year is almost over! There are only two days to go. We are all counting down the hours, even the little kids.

            Today is the day of the all high school field trip to Collin’s Lake and the 4-6th grade “Glow in the Dark Party.” Collin’s Lake is approximately 40 miles from Downieville, near Dobbins. The high school is excited to get their swim on and get those nice tans started for summer!  Tonight is a volleyball game featuring the alumni vs 2013 high school girls’ team.  A pizza/salad dinner will be available for purchase and all proceeds will benefit the 2013 DHS volleyball team.

            The elementary students went to Animal Ark in Reno last week, both Miss Schofield’s K-3 and Mrs. Salva’s 4-6. They learned about habitats & animal behavior and were pleasantly surprised to see: a black bear playing tetherball, a wolf, a jaguar, a pampered badger with a brain injury, and a baby owl. The 4-6 class just finished a unit on friendship, trust, and honesty. During the lesson, one of the students asked whether one should lie to save his/her life, which led to a discussion of the play Les Miserables and reflection on the sacrifice of Jean Valjean.

Supervisor Lee Adams, Docent Karen Galan, Downieville Senior Leslie Baker and Teacher Mr. Steve Fillo at the presentation of Leslie's Senior Project, a rocker sluice box, to the Downieville Museum.

Supervisor Lee Adams, Docent Karen Galan, Downieville Senior Leslie Baker and Teacher Mr. Steve Fillo at the presentation of Leslie’s Senior Project, a rocker sluice box, to the Downieville Museum.

            This week was very eventful. Between Senior Project Boards and graduation preparation, ascending the final flight of stairs is becoming the number one thought on the mind of each senior. Tuesday the 4th, the seniors had a hectic nervousness throughout the morning while the Senior Boards were being held. For his senior project, Leslie Baker discussed Alleghany history and presented his sluice box. Hannah Ford did a presentation on Criminal Justice, showed off her collection of fingerprints, and presented a PowerPoint on 9-1-1 calls and DUI’s. Brandon McDermid did his presentation on the history of mountain biking and he presented a PowerPoint about his project, which was a Bike Rodeo. The Bike Rodeo was a safety course and fun event for children, which took place Saturday June 1st.  With a passion for gardening, Riata Hester showed her expertise on botany and presented photos of her garden, which resides in front of the gym and acts as the senior class gift to the school.  Marie Ellsworth gave a brief history of film as part of her term paper, gave tips for amateur filmmakers and presented her short exciting film on local mountain biking and its effect on Downieville.

            Each senior plans on taking a different route after high school graduation.  Brandon McDermid plans on working on bicycles at our very own Downieville Outfitters Bike shop. RiataHester plans on continuing to “work hard and live life.”  Hannah Ford plans on enrolling at Feather River Community College in the fall of 2013 to pursue nursing. Marie Ellsworth plans on enrolling at U.T.I.- Universal Technical Institute–to study automotive engineering and auto body/ collision work; she plans on attending a university at some future date. Leslie Baker plans on becoming a local goldminer, and possibly beginning his pursuit of higher education. We wish our Class of 2013 the best as they pursue their futures.

            Friday the 7th, tomorrow, there will be a softball game, high school students versus teachers. Feel free to root for whatever team you want, we won’t judge.

            Graduation is Saturday, June 8, beginning at noon, on the Downieville School field; a hot dog barbeque will follow the ceremonies.

            Have a fun, safe summer and the Weekly Warrior will be back in the fall!

Bike Rodeo Senior Project for Brandon McDermid

Bike Rodeo Senior Project for Brandon McDermid


Brandon checks details of Bike Rodeo Project

Brandon McDermid checks details of Bike Rodeo Project


Weekly Warrior by Jarrett Lawes 6/5/13

Weekly Warrior

By: Jarrett Lawes

            Hello and goodbye Weekly Warrior readers. As the school year comes to a close, our school still has news to report.

            First, Miss Schofied’s K-3 class has had a great year. The students have had a ton of fun and love school, but are looking forward to summer break. Recently bothMiss Schofield’s class and Mrs. Salva’s 4th-6th-grade class went to the Animal Ark Sanctuary outside Reno. The class saw a black bear playing tetherball, a wolf, a jaguar, a badger with a brain injury that was very well cared for, and a baby owl.

 The class is planning a Glow in the Dark party for Thursday June 6th; also Mrs. Salva planned a graduation party for the 6th graders whom we are looking forward to seeing on the “other side” of the school.

            In addition the whole 4th-6th grade class has just finished a two-week unit about friendship, trust, and honesty, which the kids loved. During the lesson, one of the students asked if they should lie to save their life. This led to a discussion of the play Les Miserables and the character Jean Valjean who lies to save his own life but then tells the truth to save the life of others. The class listened to the music and now they want to take a trip to see the musical next year. The students then did a lot of writing and reflecting about the lesson.

Brandon McDermid at his Senior Project Bike Rodeo

Brandon McDermid at his Senior Project Bike Rodeo

            Onto the high school–On Saturday June 1st Brandon McDermid held a Bike Rodeo for his Senior Project. It started at 12:00pm and about 15 kids from ages 4-13 showed up. There were races on the playground, obstacle courses and watermelon and refreshments were served before the prizes were handed out.   Everyone had a great time!

Supervisor Lee Adams, Docent Karen Galan, Downieville Senior Leslie Baker and Teacher Mr. Steve Fillo at the presentation of Leslie's Senior Project, a rocker sluice box, to the Downieville Museum.

Supervisor Lee Adams, Docent Karen Galan, Downieville Senior Leslie Baker and Teacher Mr. Steve Fillo at the presentation of Leslie’s Senior Project, a rocker sluice box, to the Downieville Museum.

            Tuesday was Senior Project presentation day and the 2013 seniors really stepped up to the plate.  Leslie Baker discussed Alleghany history and presented his sluice box. Hannah Ford did a presentation on Criminal Justice, showed off her collection of fingerprints, and presented a PowerPoint on 9-1-1 calls and DUI’s. Brandon McDermid did his presentation on the history of mountain biking and he presented a PowerPoint about his project, which was the recent Bike Rodeo. With a passion for gardening, Riata Hestershowed her expertise on botany and presented photos of her garden, which resides in front of the gym and acts as the senior class gift to the school.  Marie Ellsworth gave a brief history of film as part of her term paper, gave tips for amateur filmmakers and presented her short exciting film on local mountain biking and its effect on Downieville.

            The 7th-12th grades are all going to Collins Lake on Thursday June 6th. On the same day is the alumni volleyball game starting at 5:30 in the DHS gym; a pizza and salad dinner will be for sale for 5 dollars.   Friday the secondary students will once again challenge the faculty to a softball game.

            Graduation will be on Saturday June 9th at 12:00pm on the school field. Everyone is invited to the graduation as well as the hot dog picnic which will follow.

            Many of the seniors are excited for what may lie beyond the horizon of high school. Les Baker is planning on mining gold after he graduates. Marie Ellsworth is going to Universal Technical Institute to learn the automotive trade. Brandon McDermid and Riata Hester are going to be working. Hannah Ford is going to Feather River College to train to become a nurse. To the Class of 2013, we’ll miss you and hope your lives are filled with success!


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