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August 1, 2012     Portola Reporter
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August 1, 2012
 

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8B Wednesday,.Aug. 1, 2012 Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter EDITORIAL AN1) O P INI 0 N EDITORIAL Leaders must adhere to open meeting laws The preamble of California's open meeting law, commonly referred to as the Brown Act, reads "Public commissions, boards, councils and other legislative bodies of local government agencies ex- ist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on re- maining informed to retain control over the leg- islative bodies they have created." In a shocking, irresponsible and incomprehensi- ble move, the Legislature and the governor struck a severe blow against the people's sovereignty last month when they refused to provide funding for key provisions of the Brown Act, originally enact- ed in 1953. According to the First Amendment Coalition, a government watchdog group, "Buried deep in the budget signed June 27 by the governor is a small provision that suspends the reimbursable state mandat.e that requires local governmental bodies under the Brown Act to post a descriptive meeting agenda 72 hours before a regular meeting and stick to it." This debacle actually began back in 2004 when 83.7 percent of California voters approved Proposi- tion 1A -- a constitutional amendment designed to protect funding for local governments that re- quires the state to pay the cost of all its mandates or suspend their operation. Now here's the rub. Reimbursement claims filed with the state to recoup the alleged costs incurred by complying with the Brown Act mandates ranged from $30 million to $100 million per year, according to published estimates. The California Newspaper Publishers Association estimates the claims totaled about $50 million last year. For example, Californians Aware, another watchdog group, reported Santa Barbara County charged the state a whopping $78,044 for 384 meet- ings in 2005 - 06. The city of Vista charged the state $20,174 for creating 90 shorter agendas. It was also noted that Vista billed the state an additional $808 for the preparation of its Dec. 13, 2005, City Council meeting notice. So, rather than address the real issue of reim- bursement claims gone wild, the Legislature and the governor simply cut off the funding, leaving those portions of the Brown Act unenforceable in a court of law. That means the people have no le- gal recourse against a legislative body that refuses to comply with these Brown Act provisions. It's unacceptable that the Legislature would cre- ate a situation that could allow irresponsible leg- islative bodies to shirk their responsibility to the people and bilk taxpayers for duties as traditional and common as preparing agendas for their public meetings. Shame on the Legislature for creating this mess, shame on the legislative bodies that took advan- tage of the system and shame on the governor for signing this absurdity into law. By just this one blatant example, it appears it's OK to have no accountability on handling our money; we'll just vote to give them more to mis- manage come November. Really? We trust our local legislative bodies will honor their duty to the people by creating and posting agendas and providing public notice of their ac- tions despite the relaxing of the Brown Act re- quirements.. We also urge the Legislature to quickly approve SCA 7 -- a proposed constitutional amendment by Sen. Leland Yee currently stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee -- a bill that would place this simple solution before the voters: "Each public body shall provide public notice of its meet- ings and shall publicly disclose any action taken." Editorials are written by members of the editorial board, which consists of the publisher, the managing editor and the appropriate staff writer or writers, and should be considered the opinion of the newspaper. Fea000000shing 00wspaper Breaking News .... 1 go to plumasnews.com / Michael C. Taborski ............. Publisher Keri B. Taborski ...Legal Advertising Dept. Delaine Fragnoli ........ Managing Editor Alicia Knadler ........ Indian Valley Editor Ingrid Burke ................ Copy Editor Staff writers: Laura Beaton Jordan Claw Michael Condon Ruth Ellis DJ Estacio Will Farris Samantha P. Hawthorne Mona Hill Susan Cort Johnson Dan McDonald Debra Moore Brian Taylor M. Kate West Sam Williams James Wilson Green thumb sprouts late One by one my friends grew green thumbs. They eagerly anticipated the spring's first shipment of annual color and would Spend hours planting, water- ing, weeding and rhapsodizing about the results. I didn't get it. I tried. Each year I Would make the annual trek to buy blooms, feigning interest. I struggled to recall the names of flowers, Anything beyond a daisy or a rose confounded me, I couldn't even accurately name a pansy from a petunia. My friends at work would give me a gift certificate to the local nursery for my birthday, which always falls around Memorial Day. They also accompanied me on the shopping spree knowing how shrub-challenged I was. But then the bets would be on to see how long it would take me to kill my plants. No matter how I augmented my soil or watered or weeded, they slowly withered. Thankfully, the growing season in the mountains is mercifully short and my hu- miliation was soon covered in snow. But something changed this year. And it was totally unexpected. My good friend Sandy Condon picked me up and took me to Gray's for my annu- al spring fling. Our goal -- find plants to fill two backyard containers and the mail- box barrel. I can navigate the seven floors of MY TURN DEBRA MOORE Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.com Harrods Department Store in London, but the aisles of the local nursery make me dizzy. Too many plants; too little knowl- edge. I know I like perennials. The more perennials I can buy, the fewer floral for- ays await me in subsequent years. But the annuals are always so cheery. We bought a nice assortment -- I'd like to tell you what they are, but despite my best intentions, I tossed the little plastic spiked tags that contain all of the perti- nent information. That means next spring, I will be scratching my head and wondering if that green bud is a weed or a blossom. Sandy has made more than one trip to my house as the season progressed, assur- ing me that the plants I have been dutiful- ly nurturing are actually weeds. (I can This week's special days NOT JUST AN ORDINARY DAY COMPILED BY KERI TABORSKI Not just an ordinary day....a sampling of weekly notable special days and facts throughout the year. Aug. 1 -- In 1876 the state of Colorado (The Centennial State) was admitted to the United States. Aug. 2 -- United States Vice President Calvin Coolidge, a Republican from Ver- mont, became the 30th president of the United States in 1872, following the death of President Warren G. Harding. Aug. 3 -- National Watermelon Day Aug. 4 -- National Mustard Day The King of Condiments is celebrated today. Made from mustard seeds to form a paste-like substance, the condiment was probably first used by the Romans. Aug. 5 -- American Bandstand, a show tailored to teenagers playing top 10 songs and featuring popular dances, debuted on ABC network television in 1957. Aug. 7 -- The Washington Star newspa- per ceased all operations and filed bank- ruptcy in 1981 after 130 years of continu- ous publication. The Washington Post purchased the land, buildings and print- ing presses. identify a dandelion, but that's about my limit.) Then something strange happened. I felt the urge to return to the nursery. It was vaguely unsettling. Not wanting to infringe on my friend, the gardener, yet again, I set off on my own. I tried to exude an air of confidence as I strode through the door, but I felt like an interloper. I wandered around -- but the plants that we purchased during the fi:st trip were no longer in evidence. As the min- utes inched toward closing time, I asked for help. I returned home with a carload of plants and not a clue as to where to put them. I had no choice, I called Sandy. "I went to Gray's," I said. Long pause. "By yourself?." she asked. "Yes," I said. Another pause. "Really?" "Yes, really." You would think that I told her I had walked into an operating room to perform brain surgery. Still, I couldn't be too insulted. After all, I was the one with $100 worth of plants and no idea what to do with them. What I really need at this point is a plan. I have a large, terraced back yard in desperate need of direction. Randomly in- terjecting bits of color is fun, but can't hide the fact that both the yard and I need serious help. The front yard is easier -- most of it is consumed by mutating, overgrown ju- nipers. Various passersby have suggested that I tear out what they consider to be of- fensive plants. But why would I want to rid my yard of something that is perpetu- ally green and maintenance free? However, I could trim them back. The path between the plants and the front of the house had become so thin that one had to shimmy to get by. I haven't been home to watch the Amerigas delivery guy try it, but it might be fun to watch. I began trimming and quickly uncov- ered in no particular order: a fire extin, guisher, assorted golf and tennis balls, a caulking gun, beverage bottles, darts and a faded hair ribbon. I am sure that more treasures await, but the deeper I go, the thicker the bushes. I need a stronger tool for thejob. I can't imagine what I Wouidge ifI ac- tually took them all out. And then, what would I put in their place --- certainly not annuals. No, for now, my focus will be on the backyard. Isn't it time for" snow? KERI TABORSKI Historian 75 YEARS AGO .......... 1937 NextTuesday evenings "Calling All Cars" radio program on KNX will be based on a Plumas County crime. An employee, a waiter in the railroad restaurant in Porto- la, was shot in a hold up robbery three years ago. The assailant was tried by three juries and sentenced to San Quentin, 50 YEARS AGO ........ 1962 Ten official directional and informational highway signs were installed on the high- way skirting Lake Almanor and have been hailed as proof of a boost in traffic in that area of Plumas County. 25 YEARS AGO ......... '1987 The recently refurbished Caribou Cor- ner Cafe in the Feather River canyon went up in smoke when a fire in a recreational vehicle started on the front siding of the restaurant. Siebers Construction has completed the new Coast to Coast Hardware Supply building located on Highway 70 in East Quincy. 10 YEARS AGO ........ 2002 Recording three drownings and nearly a fourth in a recent two week period on the Feather River, Pacific Gas & Electric Com- pany has ordered that more warning signs be placed near the Tobin Bridge and other. swimming areas in the Feather River canyon. David Cline of Quincy has been named Plumas County Fair manager. Experiencing the VIP treatment It's not very often I get recognized as a very important person. But recently I had that honor at the High Sierra Music Festi- val. I got my hands on a couple of VIP wristbands, and offto the fair my girl- friend and I went. The festival took place during typically gorgeous high Sierra summer weather. Thousands of music enthusiasts and festi- valgoers flocked to the Fairgrounds to en- joy the fun. It was my first VIP experience at High Sierra. Or anywhere, for that matter. Oh, wait. There was that time I flew standby from Ontario to Hawaii. As I chewed my nails, hoping I would make the flight, my name was called over the loudspeaker and I was informed that the only seat left on the plane was in first class. Sweet! What I remember most about that flight was the real glass and silverware and the roomy, comfortable seat. It was luxurious, with plenty of leg and arm room-- not at all like economy class, where you sit in discomfort for the duration of your flight. We even had our own private stewardess who was ever ready with' the beverage or snack of your choice. But back to High Sierra. I had heard that the VIP area was deluxe: free food and drinks, backstage access, couches, re- al bathrooms, breathing room from the thronging crowds at the Grandstand. I was really looking forward to it. The first challenge though was finding out where to go. I had heard the VIP area was on the right side of the stage, so we forged our way through the crowd; battling the force MY TURN in the shade. Next day we knew the ropes, and achieved our destination with VIP panache. From where we stood inside the hal- lowed gates, it was as if we were on the outside of a cattle chute -- a really huge one, that accommodated the milling, moo- ing, smoking crowd. There they were, trapped like, well, cattle in a chute, while .......................................................................................................................................................... we, at least, had some breathing room. LAURA BEATON This time we came prepared with our Staff Writer Ibeaton@plumasnews.com of the throbbing music all the way to the front of the horde, only to find there was no access through the fence. We turned and swam against the stream through the sardine-packed crowd and around to the real entrance. We breathed .sighs of relief as we escaped the writhing masses, the deafening music, and clouds of marijuana smoke. Already I felt like a phony VIP -- not even knowing where the gate was! But we showed our armbands and abracadabra! -- the gates opened to the inner sanctum. I bellied up to the bar, only to discover that there were no free drinks --just dis- counted beer, and nary a glass'of wine to be had. That was sold at an even more VIP area, but our armbands were only so pow- erful, and not up to the task. We did have access to free food, and it even looked pretty good, but I wasn't hun- gry at the time, and later, when I was hun- gry, it was all gone. Still, it was nice to be out of the fray, to drink $4 beers instead of $6 beers. The music was no longer deafen- ing, and we even got to lounge on couches own wine in a steel Kleen Kanteen. We had learned that bottles and cans were taboo inside the grandstand area. At any rate, this time we explored the backstage area, and found different free drinks and food, picnic tables in the shade, and the promised bathrooms. We got a great look at the musicians from backstage, and saw massage tents for the performers. By then I did feel like a very special person from my side of the fence. I've never been too comfortable in huge crowds of people and I don't like the feeling of being pressed in upon from all sides, so I was thankful not to be squished in amongst so many hot and Sweaty bodies. Being a VIP was definitely a great way to experience the festival. Even though I enjoyed quite a few shows at the other stages too, the nighttime grandstand events were definitely more pleasant and enjoyable from the VIP side of the fence. I'm looking forward to next year, and hoping that the powers that be remember I'm a VIP.