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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
April 7, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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April 7, 2010

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lOB Wednesday, April 7, 2010 Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter EDITORIAL and OPINION EDITORIAL No one feels comfortable when someone else has the power to irreparably change the world with a simple stroke of a pen. Thanks to the American Antiquities Act of 1906, the president of the United States has the power to unleash a huge federal bureaucracy and create national monuments on his own au- thority without the approval of Congress or any other governmental entity or agency. Congress approved the act to allow the presi- dent to preserve "hiStoric landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest." That far-reaching presidential power raised concern locally when approximately 3 million acres of the Modoc Plateau, largely located in Lassen County, was included on a list of 14 sites in nine states proposed for national monument status, according to a Department of the Interior memo leaked to the public by a Utah congress- man last month. President Theodore Roosevelt first used the act to create the Devil's Tower National Monu- ment in Wyoming in 1906. In fact, he created 18 national monuments during his tenure in- cluding Lassen Peak and Cinder Cone in what eventually became Lassen Volcanic National Park. More recently, President George W. Bush cre- ated five national monuments, and President Bill Clinton established Grand Staircase Es- calante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996. While local business and governmental inter- ests initially oppose many national monument designations, few among us would object today to the preservation of the Grand Canyon, the Tetons or Death Valley -- all national monu-/: ments that eventually became national parks. Let's be completely honest for a moment even the most optimistic lover of wide-open spaces, anthropology and scientific inquiry among us would have a pretty hard time trying to sell anyone, anywhere on the idea of a gigan- tic, sprawling Modoc Plateau National Park. The Lassen County Board of Supervisors rightly wants to be included in the decision- making process before such a designation is made and nearly 4,700 square miles of local land are set aside for preservation, potentially upset- ting long-standing local planning and economic development decisions as well as possibly dis- rupting the livelihood of many ranchers and pri- vate landowners. Protecting our wilderness is important to all of us, but our local elected officials at least de- serve a seat at the table and an opportunity to express their concerns before the president signs such a far-reaching order that changes the land use of Lassen County forever. Feat ?ing Breaking News .... go to I Michael C. Taborski ............. Publisher Keri B. Taborski .. Legal Advertising Dept. Delaine Fragnoli ........ Managing Editor Diana Jorgenson .......... Portola Editor Alicia Knadler. ....... Indian Valley Editor Kate West ............... Chester Editor Shannon Morrow .......... Sports Editor Mona Hill .................. Copy Editor Staff writers: Joshua Sebold Cheryl Frei Will Farris Ruth Ellis Sam Williams Brian Taylor Barbara France Pat Shillito Susan Cort Johnson Linda Stachwell Feather River Westwood Bulletin PinePress (530) 283-0800 (530) 256-2277 Lassen County Chester Progressive Times (530) 258-3115 (530) 257-53211 Indian Valley Portola Reporter Record (530) 832-4646 (530) 284-7800 No more smoke and mirrors; it's time for talk MY TURN MONA HILL Staff Writer My coverage of Plumas Unified School District during the first part of 2010 was a result of reporter Linda SatchweU going out on medical leave just in time for con- ditions at Greenville High School to erupt into controversy. At first, like everyone else, I thought, "Well, this is a no-brainer: Use the reserve to meet the need. What else is it for?" I began to look at the whple budget. I even asked someone experienced in K12 fi- nance to look over it with me. I thought at the time, "What are 'they' doing with all that money?" and I wanted to find out. I found out that despite an embarrass- ment of riches', PUSD and the county Office of education are in trouble through no fault of their own. The fault lies elsewhere, whether you blame the California Department of Educa- tion, Governor Schwarzenegger the Legis- lature or all of the above: They keep cutting and deferring education funding as a way out of a budget mess of their own making. I also found out there is no budgetary "smoking gun." Despite some rather fluid budget development and reporting prac- tices, there is nothing inherently wrong with the district's accounting. And, I found out the superintendent and the school board are lacking in transparen- cy. They are failing to represent and to lis- ten to all district stakeholders as they de- cide the future of Plumas County schools. Over the three months I reported on school board meetings, a parade of parents, teachers and students addressed the board during public input. By law, the board may not substantively respond to public com- ment because topics arising during com- ment are not on the agenda. Fair enough. Indian Valley parents, teachers and stu- dents, as well as their representative, Jonathan Kusel, have pled repeatedly for a more inclusive discussion. I've been told they asked several times that the matter be put on the agenda but that hasn't happened as of this writing. Kusel strenuously objected to the office of education layoff notices and the manner in which they were decided. Board president Brad Baker actually laughed when Superintendent Glenn Harris informed Kusel it was the superin- g Colin Dillingham of Quincy went birding at Parque Nirvana, a reserve in the central Andes of Colombia. Next time you travel, share where you went by taking your local newspaper along and including it in a photo. Then e-mail the photo to smor- Photo submitted tendent's role to decide and that perhaps the board had been previously misinformed -- only he knows why. No one else on the board did more than ask if any of those teachers could be re- called. The effect of the layoffs is a sub- stantial reduction in career tech/ROP sec- tions and teachers, easily accomplished be- cause the superintendent took unilateral action within the letter of the law. A successful, popular natural resources program at GHS has been gutted. The dis- trict, through the marvel of creative -- but legal-- accounting, has managed to redi- rect some $61,000 in grant funding meant for the program. Secure Rural Schools funding has gone to create a massive 45 percent reserve fund while teachers are laid off and sections can- celled. The superintendent and director of busi- ness repeatedly resist doing anything with the approximately $9.5 million, citing the advice of two auditors and a state K14 ad- ministrators lobbyist. The school board does not object. I'm not sure where the idea "we have to save the money in case we fall out of basic aid" originated. It's an understandable ar- gument until you understand the differ- ences between basic aid and revenue limit districts. The fact is: As long as both property tax revenue and student enrollment decline or increase at relatively the same rate, PUSD will not fall out of basic aid status. The next argument is that as basic aid districts increase -- and they are because of recent economic woes --- the state would realize how much money it's losing from property taxes and act to abolish basic aid. The state is already shortchanging school districts. PUSD has an early retirement incentive program. OK, encourage the more expen- sive teachers to retire and lower payroll. Despite sending layoff notices to 11 teach- ers in March, the district plans to hire up to 17 teachers to replace retirees. My expert wanted to know what the folks at the district were smoking. K12 finance is complex and the rules dif- ficult to understand. Bottom line: The dis- trict cannot afford to maintain four high schools in our small county. Cuts and clo- sures are inevitable. What the school board and the superin. tendent need to do, instead of ramming through changes with dog-and.pony presen- tations, is.involve all stakeholders in de~ : tailed discussions about where we go from here and how we get there. The cry across the land is, "Our represen- tatives ignore our wishes." Whether it's the prez or the governator, Congress or state legislayers, we want accountability. If we can't get it locally, what chance do we have nationally? Now's the time to speak up, folks. REMEMBER WHEN KERI TABORSKI Historian 80 YEARS AGO... 1930 Advertisement: Steaks and chops that satisfy, prepared to order any time. Coffee that is unexcelled in Quincy with pies and cakes like mother makes. Offering a daily special plate dinner: 40 cents. Always something nice for Sunday supper--The Coffee Shoppe, Quincy. A company of 25 from Hollywood arrived days to film scenes to be used in the movie entitled "The Storm," a romance of the Canadian northwest, produced by Univer- sal Studios. 50 YEARS AGO... 1960 This,week Plumas County Board of Su- pervisor E.J. Humphrey of Greenville signed Plumas County's petition of inter- vention to oppose a proposal before the Federal Power Commission the Richvale Irrigation District's efforts to appropriate the middle fork of the Feather River by constructing Grizzly Dam there. 30 YEARS AGO... 1980 dents been getting regularly for the past 113 years? The Feather River Bulletin, the newspaper that never misses an issue, bringing you the news every week since 1866. The newspaper you now hold in your hands is the 5896th Bulletin to come off the presses. 10 YEARS AGO... 2000 Public libraries throughout Plumas County will close for several haft-days this spring to allow staff and volunteers to bar code all books. Work got underway this week at the site of the Old Quincy Hotel, renamed Dame Shirley Plaza, where old tree stumps and in Belden this week on location for several History Quiz: What have Quincy resi- cement were removed. Every American should have access to healthcare this World Alive." While the song's intent day, one more hour. i~i)i!i!i]i =i!! .... ~: : is humor, it's also the sad truth for all of He wanted to live more than anything, us. and luckily, he had someone who was will- Some of us will have a catastrophic ing to picl~ up the tab and give him a little !~~~ health issue such as a heart attack and die more time. " suddenly and quickly. In a strange way, Despite that experience, I can't find a they're probably the lucky ones. way to make myself believe my father de- .... :~~ ....... ~ ....... Most of us will just get older and sicker served those extra years of life simply be- over time; and as we age, our need for cause he had a rich and famous brother MY TURN more and more healthcare -- visits to our who could pay for it. Life is precious. All SAM WILLIAMS healthcare providers, medications and life. It's God's greatest gift, and death is Staff Writer even medical procedures will increase, l the ugly alternative. hate to point it out so bluntly, but that's Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a huge the disquieting reality we all face.Barack Obama fan, and frankly, I'm not The battle lines drawn over healthcare when I was 10, my father died at age 38 convinced the healthcare bill just signed reform in America remain despite the ac- of multiple myeloma, a rare form of into law is the best way for us to provide tions of congress and the president last leukemia 50 years ago this week, in fact. healthcare for all Americans. Like most of week. My cousin died of the same disease at age you, I have questions, concerns and issues. To some of those on the left, the passage 35 in March 2004. My brother calls this af- But I am sure when the Founding Fa- of a healthcare reform bill represents a ma- fliction the family curse, thers created this great country of ours -- jor step forward in securing an important When my father finally received a diag- dedicated to the proposition we all enjoy right of citizenship for all Americans. nosis in 1957, his doctor gave him no more a God-given and unalienable right to life, To some of those on the right, the bill's than six months to live. liberty and the pursuit of happiness passage represents nothing less than the My uncle Ted stepped forward to pay his they could never have imagined nor fore- end of our country as we know it. medical bills, sent him to the top special- seen our current predicament; the mod- Apparently there is no middle ground ists in the country, and, according to my ern, industrialized world we live in or anywhere in this ideological divide, mother, spent about $100,000 a year keep- the healthcare system we've created for I don't believe there's any easy way to ing my father alive, ourselves. mend this rift, so now's the time for each of There was no hope of a cure back then. I'm also sure these men who dedicated us to ask and answer the telling question Uncle Ted probably would be embarrassed themselves to the spirit of equality never that stirs uncomfortably just beneath the I'm even bringing it up now, because he would have intended someone should die surface of this conflict -- should access to never wanted any publicity about hellzing simply because they couldn't afford to live. healthcare be available to every American his younger brother. We all have a right to life, and access to or should it be reserved only for those who Even though I saw the world through my healthcare should not be a matter of mon- have the money to pay for it? little kid eyes, I couldn't help noticing the ey, class or social standing, ff it were, only In 1952, Fred Rose and Hank Williams way my father struggled for life -- for one the rich would survive, and that seems so wrote a song entitled, "I'll Never Get Out of more month, one more week, one more obviously wrong and un-American. f,