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September 10, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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September 10, 2014
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 11B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Mental health's computer request is unreasonable I read with some surprise in your paper that the Plumas County Mental Health Department was asking the Board of Supervisors for over $80,000 for new computer equipment for their department. Surely this has to be a typo. Someone has misplaced the decimal point. This request smacks of the usual bureaucratic spending for anything shiny at the end of a fiscal year so they can justify a bigger budget next year. Nothing is more mysterious than computers when it comes to dazzling an uninformed board of directors. The truth is that even B-year-old computers can perform all the data processing of the newest that WHERE I STAND BILL WArrENBURG RADIO TALK SHOW HOST you can buy. If the "old computers" are operating properly now, they can be upgraded to the latest operation system for less than $200 each. Replacing a few computers each year for a few thousand dollars may make sense. But $80,000 worth? Come on. This is like the public works department asking to replace all of its pickups with a new Corvette for each employee. And they need two monitors so employees can display two pages or windows at a time? Some salesperson took a county official on a snipe hunt. At Costco today, you can buy the most powerful computer processor in existence with a big monitor that will display two 8-by-ll pages side by side -- and it costs less than $1,200 with the best warranties available. The board may fred that much of the $80,000 will be paid to some outside contractor who will supply "special software" programs and "system integration and training." The Board of Supervisors must do the following before approving over $10,000 for" computer purchases by any department: 1) Demand an itemized list of all computer hardware and contractor services being purchased. 2) Demand a written explanation for why the computer equipment and contractor services are needed. 3) Then hire an outside computer professional to actually test and evaluate the above to justify the purchases. 4) Publish in a local paper what is provided by steps 1 to 3 above. There are dozens of experienced computer people in private businesses in Plumas County who can advise the BOS once given the information above. They probably rolled their eyes when they read about this $80,000 request. The state colleges have hundreds of computer science experts who would be glad to do the testing and evaluation for a few thousand dollars. They can easily understand any of the " data processing being done by the mental health department. These consultants can quickly find out whether the $80,000 includes "special computer programs." They can fmd out whether these programs are really new and necessary. It is nice to have a system where the department heads are running the county without a $500,000 administrator (salary, office, staff and benefits). But the board must understand that it is unreasonable to expect any department to question the purchase requests of other departments. They will generally support each other. It is called the silent "you scratch my back, I scratch yours." I have approved over $2 million of purchases for new computer systems for both scientific and business staff over the years. I had to reject five times that much in requests that were nothing more than "electronic candy" and friendly contractor services that were not needed. I will be happy to help the Board of Supervisors find any number of outside experts if they want. The BOS must understand what they are buying before they spend more of our tax dollars than would be required to hire another medical or law enforcement or road repair professional for the county. New Forest Service policy requires courageous leadership An August 2014 news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture entitled "The Rising Cost of Fire Operations..." underscores the funding dilemma that Forest Service decision-makers face when trying to balance the needs for proactive forest maintenance and improvement work on the one hand with reactive fire suppression efforts on the other. Firefighting has become a larger and larger fraction of the Forest Service budget in recent years as big, intense fires have consumed many tens of thousands of acres of vegetation. When more of the budget is spent fighting fires, less is available for WHERE I STAND DALE KNUTSEN FORMER CHAIRMAN ALMANOR BASIN FIRE SAFE COUNCIL road and facility maintenance and improvement, vegetation and wildlife management, etc. One obvious solution to the dilemma is for Congress to add money to the Forest Service budget line sufficient to reinstate the amounts requested for the efforts not related to fire suppression. Unfortunately, this approach basically ignores the underlying problem faced by our national forests: the problem of excess fuel. To a large extent, the national forest fuel problem is serf-inflicted, first by a long period of Ewe exclusion policies, then supplemented in more recent years by a near elimination of mechanical harvesting. These decisions have led to a continuing buildup of vegetation fuels from the very forest floor to the tree tops, a condition that is ready for ignition. But this isn't new information; you've heard it before from concerned individuals with far greater expertise on the matter. With all that as background, let me suggest a change to our current national forest Ewe management approach, one that involves proactive efforts to limit the size of the inevitable wildland Ewes to come. Instead of waiting for a Ewe to occur and then attempting to contain it (under trying circumstances) as it makes its way through dense vegetation, why don't we create some barriers in advance? Call those barriers "strategic fuel breaks" or whatever catchy phrase you wish. The objective is to create a network of reduced fuel areas across the national forest landscape, intended to slow the progress of a fire suffmiently that it could be successfully halted by conventional fire suppression efforts. These are not bare ground areas; rather, they would be what the professionals call "shaded fuel breaks" where well-spaced trees exist and where much of the surface fuel (brush and litter) has been cleaned up. My guess is that fire professionals would be able to point out areas within a given national forest where properly sized shaded fuel breaks would be effective at retarding fire movement and allowing firefighters to safely combat the blaze. Removal of excess fuel would not be without cost, but it could be partially offset by sale of the larger cut trees. The process of creating a network of shaded fuel breaks would be a major commitment, taking years to complete. This isn't a new concept, but in the past it seemed to get brushed aside as not fitting within current policy. Well, current policy has also led to our basic forest fuel problem. As long as we let human-decreed policy stand in the way of good decisions for the long-term health of the forest, we will continue to face the same resource losses and huge fire suppression expenditures, year after year. Surely we can do better than that. Policy can be changed the same way it was established ... by Forest Service leadership. The question is: Do we have any courageous leaders out there? LETTERS to the EDITOR tiims f6 :Iet ........... rejected this same scenario. All rs must contain an address and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week per person and only one letter per person per month regarding the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952 or e-mailed to dmatonaId@plumasnavs.oo Leapfrog development I want to draw your attention to the notice in last week's paper that 80 acres of ranch land are proposed to be split into seven-acre parcels along Beckwourth-Genesee Road, north of Beckwourth. The 80 acres are not contiguous to the town of Beckwourth. It violates the spirit of the new General Plan creating leapfrog development in a scenic, quiet area that is a convenient, favorite daily walk for people living in Beckwourth. As you walk down the road Sugarloaf Mountain is on the east side and the mountainous bluffs straight ahead. Those parcels are prime wildlife habitat with a spring nearby. ,When we lived in Beckwourth, walking the B-G Road we constantly saw deer. Where we live now, we were the En'st house in a cluster of parcels. Every day at dawn deer were seen out our west windows. With a dozen houses here, with dogs, we never see deer during the daytime hours. The same will happen with the Beckwourth-Genesee ranch land that now supports wildlife. As more houses are built, the ranch land will turn into a dead zone for wildlife. There are plenty.of existing parcels for sale in our area. Turning these 80 acres into a wildlife refuge would be a better use of the land, which a working ranch also provides. The town of Loyalton Developers wanted to develop ranch land that was not connected to the town of Loyalton. Pat Wormington Sierra Valley Forest thinning isn't 'a sales job' In another letter about the Sierra Institute's work to promote healthy forests and jobs and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through thinning, Mark Mihevc calls it "a sales job." To him, our work is about profit, with forest thinning equivalent to forest destruction. To me, forest destruction is the Moonlight Fire, where close to two-thirds of the 100 square mile Ewe was "high severity." This means extensive tree and vegetation mortality and soft burning that kills soil organisms and burns organic material to the point that soil repels water. We know something about this site because for the last seven years we've been monitoring the Moonlight Fire area with Greenville High School students. Thinning to reduce tree density will open up the canopy and improve the growth of trees left on site. It will also reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The writer warns about "less tourism" and "polluted air" from biomass thinning. The Chips Fire of two years ago, which burned for the month of August, knocked out Almanor Basin's tourist season that year. The Air District manager said smoke from Chips was so bad it "killed people." Thinning in the basin didn't repel tourists, but it did help firefighters gain control of the fire. Burning biomass in boilers is far cleaner than open burning in forests. Replacing an old propane or diesel boiler with a new biomass boiler improves air quality and saves money, too. I offered the writer the opportunity to discuss points of disagreement when he requested records about Sierra Institute's non-profit status. He has yet to take me up on this offer, but the offer stands. Additionally, don't just take my word for it. Please check out the biomass and solar energy (yes, we support solar, too) plan recently completed by the Sierra Institute and leading Plumas County citizens. It's on our website. Jonathan Kusel Taylorsville Inversion is evasion I wonder how many Americans are aware of a tax loophole that more and more corporations are using or are considering. The loophole is called "tax inversion," or more aptly put, "tax evasion." The practice encourages corporations to establish their headquarters overseas and then lend itseffmoney, allowing it to claim tax deductions on the money it uses to pay itself back. Neat! Although the Wall Street Journal reports that Democrats are pushing a plan to harness the practice, the Republican controlled congress is not going to do anything about it. Wall Street itself has already amassed almost a billion dollars helping companies relocate their headquarters overseas and ultimately dodge their taxes at a projected cost to the United States treasury of $20 billion over the next 10 years. If corporations continue to Emagle ways of dodging their fair share of keeping the nation's economy viable, they will ultimately weaken their own profit margins. As a nation's income plummets, so do the wages of those the corporations depend on as consumers. I end with a quote from Edmund Burke, "It is not what a lawyer tells me what I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do." Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville The Biomass Pendulum Back and forth the pendulum swings. One week there's a letter from the Sierra Institute, the next week there's a reply from an .... anti-biomass boiler rep. So now it's another opportunity for me to chime in. The anti-biomass rep. missed at least three crucial points: profit motive, need for forest thinning, and cleanliness of burn. Profit, or lack thereof: The Sierra Institute letter states that they are a non-profit organization. How can you call it a profit motive for a non-profit? Perhaps the anti-biomass rep. was thinking that there are big bucks to be made in forest thinning and pruning. I suggest he buy the needed equipment and give it a go. He could also check with locals who have "defensible space" businesses and ask if they will soon be moving into the Zuckerburg or Gates neighborhoods. Throughout many decades in the 20th century', the United States Forest Service and some private landowners were thinning, pruning, stacking and burning. Please use the chip-demand theory to explain why so much of this forest activity was happening when there were, and still are, so few biomass boilers. The Sierra Institute letter stated that the burner in the planned biomass boiler would be almost as clean as natural gas. This would make the boiler cleaner than coal, cleaner than a fireplace, cleaner than fuel oil, much cleaner than open burn piles, and infinitely cleaner than a major wildfire Which would very likely result if we don't use mitigating (your term) measures like clearing weeds and brush, thinning and pruning. Gene Nielsen Crescent Mills State of Jefferson I attended the State of Jefferson Town Hall meeting in Graeagle. The presentation was informative and well done. Living in northern California, we are over-taxed and over-regulated. Our elected representatives are out-voted by the politicians of the three large metropolitan ,areas of the state - greater-*  oreinstateour freedoms and Sacramento, L.A. Basin and the Bay Area. It's as if we are in the first stages of the "new-era feudal system." More taxes and more regulations will come out of Sacramento, every year. It is getting harder to support the state of California with all the new laws and increasing taxes. My wife and I do not have a six-figure income, like the politicians. Discussing the 700 - 1,100 new laws coming out of Sacramento every year with a friend he responded, "When I walked out my front door this morning, I wondered how many laws I broke." These are just a few reasons I support the State of Jefferson Declaration to have the rural northern counties of the state separate from California and form a new state, a new state where we can forge our own future, rights, and create a business-friendly state. If you feel as I do, that the State of Jefferson is a better way, then do as I did and call your supervisor and tell him or her you want them to vote for the State 0f Jefferson Declaration. Remember your supervisor works for you and the people in your district. We vote them into office and we can vote them out. Troy Rittgers Twain Tea Party is not Republican Party There you go again. My good friend from Taylorsville keeps confusing the Tea Party movement with The Republican Party. The movement is made up of individuals that believe in personal responsibility, freedom of thought, sound See Letters, page 13B Contact your elected officials... PLUMAS COUNTY SUPERVISORS - 520 Main Street, Room 309, Quincy, CA 95971; (530) 283-6170; FAX: (530) 283-6288; E-Mail: pcbs@countyofplumas.com. Individual supervisors can also be e-mailed from links on the county website, countyofplumas.com PRESIDENT - Barack Obama, the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500. (202) 456-1414. Fax: 202-456-2461. i E-mail: whitehouse.gov / contact/ i U.S. SENATOR - Dianne Feinstein (D), 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., i Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3841; FAX: 202-228-3954; TTY/TDD: i . , , . J (202) 224-2501. District Office: One Post Street, Suite 2450, San I Francisco, CA 94104; Phone: (415) 393-0707; Fax: (415) 393-0710! Website: feinstein.senate.gov. U.S. SENATOR - Barbara Boxer (D). District Office: 501 1 St., Suite 7-600, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 448-2787; FAX (916) 448-2563; OR 112 Hart Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202) 224-3553. FAX (202) 228-0454. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 1ST DIST. - Doug LaMalfa. 506 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3076. lamalfa.house.gov. DISTRICT OFFICES: 1453 Downer St., Suite #A, Oroville, CA 95965; 2885 Chum Creek R., Suite #C, Redding, CA 96002. STATE SENATOR, 1st DIST. - Ted Gaines. State Capitol Room 3070, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 651-4001, ,FAX: (916) 324-2680. E1 Dorado i Hills Constituent Service Center:. 4359 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 112, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762. (916) 933-7213, FAX (916) 933-7234; Redding Constituent Service Center: 1670 Market St., Suite 244, Redding, CA 96001, (530) 225-3142, FAX (530) 225-3143. STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, 1ST DIST. - Brian Dahle, State Capitol, Room 2174, Sacramento, CA 94249, (916) 319-2001; FAX (916) 319-2103. District Office, 2080 Hemsted Dr., Ste. #110, Redding, CA 96002; (530) 223-6300, FAX (530) 223-6737. I ] GOVERNOR Jerry Brown, office of the GOvernor, State I Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. Website: gov.ca.gov/ (916) 445-2841. FAX: (916) 558-3160. ] J