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Quincy, California
March 18, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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March 18, 2015

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6B Wednesday, March 18, 2015 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter DITORIAL AND OPINION EDITORIAL ! Editor's note: The foliowing editorial was written by Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida. Each spring for 10 years now, a vast media conspiracy has rolled across the hills and plains of this nation. Journalists of every stripe-- cartoonists to commentators to hard news reporters -- have been in on it. And not just journalists, but politicians, educators and librarians, as well as members of nonprofits and civic groups. What's the conspiracy? It's called Sunshine Week, and it is built around the birthday of James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights. This year, the week is March 15 - 21. The agenda: to brazenly promote your right to know. Open government, we argue, only works when public information flows freely. As Madison himself explained nearly two centuries ago: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." Grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where I work, launched and have helped sustain Sunshine Week. At the start, in a speech to roughly 100 open government advocates, I said the foundation could support them only if they could find a way to work together. They did. After a decade, can we say that Sunshine Week is working? Yes. And no. Search Google and you'll see hits tripling over the years. That's the work of the American Society of News Editors. Millions of people read stories about open government. New openness laws pass. Cities, states and the feds issue proclamations. This year's California bill officially recognizes Sunshine Week as "a celebration of the public's commitment to openness and an exploration of what open government means in a technology-enhanced future." Experts like Rick Blum of the Sunshine in Government Initiative testify about how freedom of information saves lives, of how it tells us, for example, when our Marines have been issued body armor with life-threatening flaws. Today, says Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, we have more access than ever to official information about topics like intelligence spending and the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Overall, access seem much better than in the days after the 9/11 attacks, when public documents vanished from websites like so many fh:eflies blinking out. Unfortunately, examples also abound of closed government, of public information held hostage. This week, major news organizations are reporting {hat too many government agencies are trying to block the public'saccess to its own information by charging exorbitant fees. Or turning our information over to businesses that are not transparent. Or muddying up freedom with restrictions that display an ignorance of what freedom really means. Secrecy is a bipartisan proposition. Hillary Clinton's hidden emails? George W. Bush did the same kind of thing. All over Washington, documents are stamped "classified" for no good reason. Governments big and small are affected. Virginia, , by not paying attention to just one of its own data files (according to Waldo Jaquith of U.S. Open Data) was leaving millions of dollars in revenue uncollected. In Maryland, Fredrick County councilman Kirby Delauter went so far as to threaten to sue if his name was printed in the newspaper. So the battle continues. Always there have been those who would hide the truth and seek personal advantage in the darkness. We can't stop fighting for sunshine because they won't stop fighting against it. In the end, the American experiment will fail unless the people Who run this country-- us-- know nearly as much as the people who work for us -- our employees, the government: But is sunshine by itself enough? Madison said, we must "arm ourselves with knowledge." We can't just know that our government disregards its own Freedom of Information laws. We have to do something about it. Yours are the laws being broken. Yours is the information being stolen. Yours are the truths being bludgeoned. In the long run, your participation is the only thing that really matters. If you see public information go into hiding, complain, complain, complain. It's your right. Feat -S il blishing _/ J wspaper For breaking news, go to Michael C. Taborski ............. Publisher Keri B. Taborski ...Legal Advertising Dept. Dan McDonald ......... Managing Editor JennyLee ................. Photo Editor Ingrid Burke ................ Copy Editor Staff writers: Miriam Cody Michael Condon Makenzie Davis Ruth Ellis Will Farris Susan Cort Johnson Greg Knight Debra Moore Maddie Musante Ann Powers M. Kate West . Aura Whittaker Sam Williams James Wilson US Secret Service agents tainted by scandal In slightly less than three years, the long-held and stellar reputation of the United States Secret Service has taken solid hits as a result of three public scandals, the last of which occurred during the first week of this month and just came to light. It has been reported that two senior agents, one of whom is a top member MY TURN of President Barack Obama's protective M. KATE WEST ' detail, crashed a government vehicle Staff Writer into a White House barrier-while allegedly under the influence of alcohol. Prior to last week the most recent run all the way to the mansion before incident occurred in September 2014 being stopped. when a man with a knife jumped the The first of the trio of mishaps White House fence and was able to happened in April 2012, when nearly 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. 1969 -- Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono marry in Gibraltar. March 21 Today is National Quilting Day, started in 1991 by the National Quilting Society. 1963 -- Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, is officially closed after 29 years. It had been open since August 1934. March 18 1850 --American Express, the financial services corporation headquartered in New York City, is founded. 1986 -- The'United States Treasury Department adds micro printing and woven threads to U.S. paper currency, the first major change in 50 years. March 19 1918 -- Congress establishes time zones in the United States and approves Daylight Saving Time. 1931 -- Gambling is legalized in the state of Nevada. 1954 -- The first color television broadcast of the Academy Awards is aired. "The Greatest Show on Earth" wins the Oscar for best picture. 1963 -- The Beatles' first album, "Please Please Me," is released in England. 1964 -- The 22-acre Sea World opens in San Diego. 1997 -- American figure skater Tara Lipinski, 14, becomes the youngest gold medalist in women's figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. March 22 1903 -- Niagara Falls, on the border of Canada and New York, runs dry following a drought. March 23 Today is National Chip and Dip Day. Sounds good tome. 1987-- Tele-evangelist Jim Bakker resigns as head of the PTL Club amid a sex scandal, handing over control to Jerry Falwell. March 20 Today is the first day of spring. 1916, Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. 1952 -- The novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe !s published. 1775 -- In Richmond, Virginia, American Revolutionist Patrick Henry declares: "Give me liberty or give me death." 1950 -- The game show "Beat the Clock" debuts on the CBS television network. March 24 1958 -- Rock 'n' roll musician Elvis Presley is inducted into the United States Army. two dozen Secret Service agents were either disciplined or fired for bringing prostitutes into their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of the president's trip to the Summit of the Americas. While other U.S. intelligence agencies have experienced vastly greater, far-reaching and even deadly scandals, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Robert Hanssen and the Central Intelligence Agency with Aldrich Ames, inappropriate behavior is not an adjective normally associated with the men and women behind the dark sunglasses. Although these Secret Service scandals seem almost benign compared to the decades of damage caused by spies Hanssen and Ames, it is shocking to me nonetheless. Revered throughout their almost 150-year history; agents of the U.S. Secret Service have always seemed to capture the imagination, respect and trust of the American people. When I think of the Secret Service there is an immediate visual connection of the president being guarded. Then there is the whole matter of patriotism, honor and heroism that romantically surrounds those selflessly willing to take a bullet for those they protect. Not widely known, there also exists a sad and but historical presidential connection. While the agency was created July 5, 1865, as the Secret Service Division of the Department of the Treasury for the purpose of suppressing rampant counterfeiting during the Civil War years, the agency did not actually assume responsibility for full-time presidential protection until 1902. Perhaps the most poignant fact about this connection is that the legislation creating the Secret Service was actually on Abraham Lincoln's desk the night he was assassinated. While protection details are extremely high Profile, we of the general public know so little about the agency. It's like the mysterious agents are invisibly cloaked. This may very well be why I find myself disillusioned wiihlthe ongoing scandals. You never hear anything about Secret Service agents. You believe these men and women live to a higher standard, you put them up on a pedestal and then ... you learn they have feet of clay like the rest of us mere humans. REMEMBER WHEN KERI TABORSKI Historian 100 YEARS AGO ..... 1915 Plumas County's neighboring city of Reno, Nevada this week celebrated its rejuvenation as the "easy divorce" mecca of the United States when a Nevada State legislative bill was signed providing only six months residency before a divorce can be granted. 50 YEARS AGO ..... 1965 The Quincy Elks will dedicate their newly built lodge hall Saturday. Located at the end of First Street In East Quincy, the $80,000 8,500 square foot structure was financed by the Elks and much of the work was done with volunteer labor. 25 YEARS AGO ..... 1990 Incumbent Barbara Coates is currently unopposed as she seeks re-election as the Plumas County Treasurer-Tax Collector. She has been in that position for nine years and in that county department for 13 years. 10 YEARS AGO ..... 2005 This week the Plumas County Board of Supervisors decided that itis sometimes prudent to spend money in order to make money so the board unanimously voted to appropriate $7,000 from the general fund contingency budget to cover costs for special travel for the board members. Note: items included in the weekly Remember When column are taken from our bound newspaper archives and represent writing styles of that particular period. The spelling and grammar are not edited, so the copy is presented as it actually appeared in the original newspaper. Activity trackers make us face the truth I regularly wear a slender, black rubber bracelet on my left wrist. It's not one of those silicone bracelets with an awareness saying imprinted on it, the kind that can be purchased in bulk. It contains a computer device that tracks how many steps I take each day and when that activity occurs (certainly not when I am writing at the computer); the distance I cover in a day; and how many calories I burn. This piece of "jewelry" was under the Christmas tree, a gift from my husband. I mentioned I would like a walking pedometer, and he purchased one of the popular brands of computerized activity trackers. At first I was not exactly grateful. You don't just slap it on your wrist, go for a walk and look at the numbers once you are finished because it must be synchronized with a computer or smart phone in order to get the readout. That means there is a learning curve, and I am not well disciplined when it comes to learning to use technology (my tablet and "Dummies" book is still on my to-do list and has been for a while). However, this bracelet is on my wrist and not out of sight, therefore, it is on my mind. I set a goal for 10,000 steps a day and have found you really need to do more than a 20- to 30-minute walk to make the distance, at least in my profession which does not require a lot of physical activity. When I get in a deadline crunch and skip exercise, there aren't many steps to count. This of course makes the MY TURN SUSAN CORT JOHNSON Staff Writer calories burned for that day dramatically lower. I am just starting to use the log, called a dashboard, to enter the food I eat. A calorie chart for various foods tallies the count. If you enter a weight loss goal and a timeline, it will determine how many calories you should eat each day in order to reach the goal. Because you know the number of calories taken in versus the number of calories expended you never have to wonder why you aren't losing weight. Accountability is the most valuable benefit of this computerized fitness tool. I am learning just how many calories are burned when I exercise. It is easy to think you are pushing to your limit until you review the charts and graphs on the dashboard. The graph lines are color-coded for light, moderate and intense activity. I know the truth about my level of activity each day. Also the computer determines how many carbs I eat as well as the amount of protein, sodium, fiber and fat. I was surprised at the high percentage of carbs I was eating. I thought my diet was fairly balanced, but with this device there is no guesswork involved. Like most, I live a life in which there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. This activity tracker helps me make the most of the time I have for exercise, stepping up the intensity level. Also it helps me choose the foods I eat more carefully. I am much more likely to skip a calorie-laden dessert because I know it will be a fourth of my calorie count for the day and mean I am much more likely to consume too many calories. Now that I have worn this fitness tracker for a bit, I am much more realistic about exercise and diet. I know where I need to make lifestyle changes and will soon know the results. Don't sit back and let others do the talking for you. Express yourself in our LETTERS TO THE EDITOR