mountainecho.com

January 30, 2012

Crosswalks

Filed under: Letters — waltblog @ 6:50 am

Editor: I don’t think this will do any good, but I am going to submit it anyway. I walk most days for health reasons and I’m totally amazed at the people in this community who don’t know what a crosswalk is, including the Highway Patrol.
The definition of a crosswalk in the dictionary is a marked path for pedestrians (a walker) crossing the street. If my memory serves me correctly, the vehicle code states that you will stop for all pedestrians.
Something needs to be done before someone gets killed. Then I guess maybe something will be done.
Wally Estes

January 23, 2012

Ought to be ashamed

Filed under: Letters — waltblog @ 12:27 pm

Editor: Regarding the story “Hawes and Mull under investigation?”
What perfect timing! Just when the Republican primary is in full swing and everyone, including Republicans, Democrats and the rest of the left wing media is throwing out all kinds of accusations, whether true or not, whether rumor or fact, whether accurate or not, whether “taken out of context” or not, your article falls right in line with the rest of them.
I am no fan of Supervisor Hawes and do not know Mr. Mull, however, I do believe that any information that may, in any way, harm the integrity of anyone, should not be based on a “rumor.”
As you know, Mr. “Joe Public” doesn’t always bother to dig deep to get the facts. He assumes that a negative connotation like “under investigation” that is a headline in a newspaper must have a least some validity. This flawed but common line of reasoning is obvious detrimental to Mr. Hawes and Mr. Mull.
Regarding your editorial: your statement “When rumors, true false or otherwise reach the public for whatever reason or in whatever manner, they may impact the election of any official such as Mr. Hawes.” This is very true but is not right. In addition I don’t agree with your statement “The constituents can make up their minds as to whether the rumor is true or false.” Is everyone going to call the FBI? I don’t think so. And don’t hold your breath waiting for the FBI to shed light on the subject.
By the way, I heard a rumor that Walt Caldwell is a….On second thought I will keep that rumor to myself.
Frank Germano

Editor’s note: Mr. Germano doesn’t read very well. The story is based in fact. I received calls from folks in our area, who heard on two different news talk shows that Hawes and Mull were being investigated by the FBI.
I tracked the information back and eventually called Mr. Anselmo. He flatly said he had turned information on both over to the FBI and had been told it was being investigated. Since the FBI doesn’t talk about their cases, I couldn’t verify it. For that reason I labeled it a rumor.
I presented what I had learned. I was careful to separate what I knew from what I couldn’t verify and made it abundantly clear which was which. From there it is up to the reader. If Mr. Germano doesn’t have enough faith in the average American reader to allow them to make up their own minds, that’s his problem. The public has a right to know and it is much easier for Hawes and Mull to battle what they know, rather than what is being said behind their backs.

November 21, 2011

Doesn’t think they should have to comply with the laws

Filed under: Letters — waltblog @ 11:17 am

Editor: It’s Tuesday, so it must be ‘beat the crap out of the Community Services District Day. Today’s episode looks a lot like a re-run of last week, the week before and the week before that: “The CSD can’t do this.” The CSD can’t do that.” And according to LAFCO, the CSD can never do anything again without going through them for approval.
Apparently the State of California, in all their imminent wisdom, made a law that makes all Community Services Districts come crawling on hands and knees to their local LAFCO, to exercise the powers that were given them in previous decades by…wait for it…the State of California. The by…wait for it…employees of the State of California. The difference now is that this power is centralized in the county seats by…wait for it…employees of the State of California.
Apparently the State of California (by the way of LAFCO), County Supervisors, and local newspaper editors believe that folks in rural enclaves lack the intelligence, ability and vision to control their own desires, their own resources, their own destiny. It is becoming painfully clear that all future rural development will be at the whim of politicians, bureaucrats and newspaper publishers, with an axe to grind.
That being the case, I suggest that the CSD board of directors just resign en masse. And that all future opportunity, decisions or plans of the CSD simply be submitted to Mr. Caldwell, Amy Mickelson and Glen Hawes for approval, none of whom, in this case, live in the Fall River Valley.
Of course, there’s nothing revealed in this week’s version of “Truth, Clarity and the American Way’ about LAFCO’s five year failure to do their job for the District. But I guess that would sort of muddy the narrative being built by the Mountain Echo wouldn’t it?
Welcome to the future comrades. Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Redding and Walt Caldwell, will now be our guiding lights, noting that they have done such a ‘great’ job so far.
Terry Briggs
See Editorial

October 10, 2011

Rebuttal

Filed under: Letters — waltblog @ 1:58 pm

“… I wish to clarify the facts, please do not cut up or alter.” Barbara Briggs
As a former Board Member of the FRVCSD I would like to set the record straight regarding the sensational headlines in the Mountain Echo of October 4th.
FIRST: The Manager did NOT retain an attorney without the board’s knowledge nor did he exceed his authority. There exists in the budget for 2011-12 $12,000 set aside for legal
and consulting fees. The Manager has, through our Policy and Procedures Manual the authorization to spend up to a certain limit for various purposes.
The General Manager was instructed by the Board in a previous meeting to seek legal counsel on the subject of LAFCO and the Sphere of Influence application in an effort to be sure we were acting legally and to protect the investment that we have made so far in this process.
Mr. Cibula’s task is single purpose, not an ongoing contract. There was no need for further Board approval. He accomplished this task and was informing the Board of the result. That it came as a surprise or without the knowledge of one of the Board members….well, that’s what happens when you don’t attend the meetings.
SECOND: It came as no surprise that there has been a lack of cooperation or civility from Amy Michelson. She had been asked repeatedly throughout 2010 to attend a Board meeting and inform us of the LAFCO process. She nor any other representative from LAFCO had the courtesy to attend our meetings.
Ms. Michelson claims to be treated disrespectfully. The situation is that she barged into a Special Meeting. This meeting was for the sole purpose of getting public input on the proposed Sphere of Influence application. Ms Michelson was NOT on the agenda. Ms Michelson was NOT invited to give a presentation. Ms. Michelson was completely out of line in representing her agency at this meeting, uninvited and attempting to negatively sway public opinion. Ms Michelson treated the Board of Directors of the CSD, the Management of the CSD and the public in a disrespectful and unprofessional manner.
THIRD: Instead of focusing on the negatives of the CSD and tearing down the Board and Management, I suggest that the paper shed some accurate light on the positive things that the District has accomplished.
LASTLY: There once was a surplus of almost $200,000 in the District. Through mismanagement, lack of oversight and outright corruption, it evaporated. We have gone from ZERO cash in the bank and bouncing checks in 2004, to today, having $12,982 dollars in operating funds.
$52,993 in reserves as required by the bond covenants and $22,682 in savings. We exchanged an expensive health and dental package that was costing the rate payers $57,000 a year for three people with a more reasonable program. Cut expenses where ever we could.
We’ve made cruical repairs and upgrades to the system. Such AS: replacing defective meters at a cost of $16,991 which has already generated an increase in revenue of approx $5000 a month. Repaired one aging lift station at a cost of $22,979. These repairs are to prevent sewage spills, increase efficiency and prevent the District from incurring large fines.
Obtained a Grant of 150,000 and a loan from the USDA in the amount of 350,000 to repair the infrastructure, water lines, in the area that has the most potential for leakage and
failure. Have obtained two other Grants to help with the Stewardship Lands acquisition.
Developed and implemented a Policy & Procedures Manual, a Sewer Service Management Plan, A Backflow Policy.
We have brought the District into legal compliance with State laws by conducting the required audits, which had not been performed for 4 years. Developed a 20 year plan to comply with Audit requirements. Discovered to our dismay that previous management had not been paying the required disability coverage or unemployment insurance. This has since been fixed, but has cost the rate payers well over $20,000 in UI payments from cash flow. AND much much more.
We have restored the cash reserves and savings and upgraded and repaired the system…..AND we have done it without raising rates.
All of these positives have been accomplished through the hard work of our General Manager and through the hard work of several Board’s of Directors since 2007.
I don’t know what the agenda or end game is in this vendetta that the paper seems to have in focusing on the negatives and in focusing exclusively on the CSD when there are other agencies that have never received the same oversight or scrutiny. The CSD expects to be called out when they do something wrong, such as the illegal meeting held previously.
However, the CSD expects to be treated fairly, honestly, with the correct facts and without malice. The CSD is much too important to the future of this community to be taken down for some sort of personal animus.
Barbara Briggs
Former Board Member

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