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November 6, 2013     Chester Progressive
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November 6, 2013
 

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8B Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE County needs independent opinion on general plan The Board of Supervisors intends to approve the final general plan and EIR on Nov. 12, at 1:30 p.m. at the Quincy Fairgrounds. Before they proceed, we present the following information. The planning commission, consultants, advisors and the Board of Supervisors deliberately inserted into the draft general plan and draft EIR a greenhouse gas emissions report using partial data from Sacramento County. An alert private citizen discovered this gross error. Thus began the Rural Advocates investigation into these documents. FUrther investigation revealed infringement on property and water rights, requirements not in keeping with our rural character and financial capabilities, and much more. Professionals to whom we posed our concerns made the following statements: Air Resources Board, Air Quality Planning/Science Division: "...We are not aware of any state requirement for Plumas County to do a GHG inventory or reduction plan." CEQA assistant general counsel, regarding using bogus data: "I don't understand how they can make an assumption without knowing what current conditions and the projected conditions would be." Asked what are the results of using inaccurate data: "CEQA requires you to prove the analysis you've done is supported by substantial evidence." Chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: "I was truly surprised that this would be a general plan update activity." And, "In my opinion, there is no credible methodology that will lead, ..... WHERE I STAND like 'sustainable ...................................................... development," smart growth' LYNN DESJARDIN RURAL ADVOCATES OF PLUMAS COUNTY your planning efforts to arrive at defensible GHG numbers for livestock and agriculture. Indeed, by using the best available figures (i.e., emission factors) one can expect to arrive at wrong conclusions leading to misguided recommendations to your farming communities that has the potential to hurt production without improving the environment." State general plan guidelines: "The general plan must be based on solid data ff it is to serve as the primary source of community planning policy." And, "The plan and its parts must address the statutorily required issues to the extent that they are locally relevant." County director, livestock and natural resources advisor: "Plumas County communitywide GHG emissions inventory use CARB protocols for doing emissions inventory.., not sure CARB has protocols yet. I believe they used ICLEI protocols." (Note: CARB is California state; ICLEI has a program to write a general plan, it will not take responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the program, and is sponsored by the United Nations.) Consultant: The GHG Inventory "... was not conducted as part of the general plan update." (Note: if not, why is it included?) Karen Budd-Falen Law Offices, specialists in land use law in the Western U.S.: "... The current Plumas County General Plan Update subordinates private and climate change mitigation. This practice violates private property rights, which historically have benefited from extensive legal protection and status. "The county's actions appear to be driven by a constant pursuit for grant money and the influence of environmentally oriented nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The resulting projects may be in the county's revenue-raising interests, they may benefit certain county employees, and they may benefit the citizens of California and the particular group behind a given project. However, these projects are generally not in the interests of county landowners. "As if confirming our suspicion that securing grant money and pet projects is a central goal of the plan, the plan names specific NGOs to implement projects. "The general plan anticipates the population will grow less than 1 percent per decad e for the next 40 years." Therefore, "... the county's duty to plan 'for the physical development of the county or city' would seem to represent a minimal undertaking. However, the general plan's sustainable development goals and policies seem designed for a county that is primarily urban and expecting significant growth and tax revenue. "This (economics) element risks adding needless bureaucracy to an already over-regulated business environment and belies the modest resources of Plumas County. The best thing the county can do to develop property rights to concepts,,, ,.business is minimize the regulatory and tax burden on businesses." Ag and Forest Element: "... The county should not set environmental quality policies that are needlessly redundant with state and federal environmental laws. We suspect the focus on conservation, environmental quality, sustainability and climate change is primarily aimed at securing future grant money for unwelcome projects in Plumas County." Water rights: "'Pond and plug' is a major watershed restoration technique .... These widespread 'plug and pond' activities have had mixed success, but one clear result: downstream water users in Plumas County and other counties have suffered devastating losses to their water supplies. "If indeed the inventory is not part of the general plan update, the plan may not purport to function as Plumas County's CAP because it would be missing key information (a baseline), and because proper environmental impact analysis would not be possible..." And! "Since Plumas County is not yet ready to lay a proper foundation for any efforts to measurably reduce GHG emissions, all the plan's goals and policies aimed toward this purpose should be removed, to the extent allowable under California law. "... Our clients and many other residents of Plumas County are generally opposed to having their interests further supplanted by environmental goals, This is particularly the case when these 'goals' may not be realistic or achievable, or worse when there are not real environmental problems that need to be corrected in the first place. "The plan does not state any statutory mandate that Plumas County, population 20,000, take action to address global climate change .... The county should determine, on its own.., the least intrusive way to comply with these mandates and consider and protect private property and the county's tax base. We believe that any action beyond the bare minimum requirements will needlessly harm Plumas County's economy and many residents. "Many of the goals or projects that the county 'shall' implement are very amorphous or of dubious value." For example, "... the plan states that 'the county shall encourage the expansion of public transit services to nearby urban areas.' ... Plumas County is rural and its 'urban' areas... lie far apart; expanding public transit makes little sense. Page 94 contemplates that the county will... provide a 'comprehensive integrated system of facilities' for pedestrians and cyclists. The county has neither the funds nor the need for such a system. Individual cities and towns are free to create such facilities; however, the county has no business ' connecting them when they are far apart and separated by rough terrain. "There is no possible way that the county can 'encourage,' 'promote' and 'support' the hundreds of causes, goals and issues that appear in the general plan. The only conceivable justification ... is the county's goal of obtaining grant money from state, federal and other sources to initiate specific projects .... These projects tend to be of dubious or even negative value for most county residents." Conclusion: The planning director, both consultants and other key players who developed this general plan and'EIR are avid environmentalists, familiar with state and federal environmental regulations and guidelines. It is inconceivable that none of them were aware of the state's warnings about the use of inaccurate data and the repercussions from using it, or of the state's remedies for not addressing mandated issues if they are not relevant to the county. Yet they purposely incorporated the erroneous emissions report into the EIR and update. They also continue to contend that addressing climate change is a state requirement. However, emission concerns are the basis for the climate change controversy. If an emissions report is not required, as witnessed by the experts, how then can addressing climate change be required? Questions to be asked about any particular element, goal, policy or implementation procedure are: If not legally required, why is it included? Who benefits from it? Do we need it? and Whose rights does it affect? Rural Advocates respectfully requests that the Board of Supervisors seek independent, disinterested legal counsel to review the final general plan update and final EIR, in the context of our rural character, property rights, anticipated population growth and financial capabilities, before proceeding to impose these commitments on the citizens of Plumas County. LETTERS, from page 7B and impose taxes and fees on farmers and ranchers making it difficult to utilize our agricultural land in a manner that makes it feasible for us to stay in business. The BOS recently signed a resolution in opposition to the Feds taking county lands to protect the yellow-legged frog that is being destroyed by a fungus. Yet the plan has numerous references to endangered species, wildlife habitats, corridors .... that invite protection of the frog, and 700 more species that are on the Fed and state lists. The plan is overwhelmingly committed to addressing the county's affect on climate change. The only fact is that the scientific community is still not in agreement on the facts. See: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2 013/10/03/the-2013-ipcc-ar5-rep ort-facts-vs-fictions/. So why are we buying into it? It's not even required. The future of this county is at stake. If you don't stand up now for your children and grandchildren, when will you? Try and read the plan on the county website. See you at the BOS meeting. Heather Kingdon Indian Valley City fiasco "Fiasco" is the term used by local reporters to describe the conflicts in personnel issues in Plumas County in recent years. In 2009 it was the LAFCo fiasco. At that time Supervisor Meacher labeled the majority of commissioners the "Eastside Cowboys," meaning vigilantes. He was referring to Supervisor Terry Swofford, City Councilmen John Larreau and Bill Kennedy. The dispute was over the renewal of the employment contract with John Gullixson. Their goal to lower the cost. It was a fiasco. It cost taxpayers far more than saved. Personnel issues are a major concern for all of our elected officials. Everything from the performance of employees to the benefits and claims against their employers are major concerns for officials and the public. Concerned citizens in Portola have issues with our elected officials over the new fiasco with the former city manager 'Ian Kaiser. While Supervisor Swofford is "absolutely opposed to recalls" it is the way that concerned citizens have of holding their representatives accountable for their conduct. Ex-supervisor and ex-councilman Bill Powers thanked the council for the job they were doing. He failed to acknowledge the job that Kaiser was doing compared to past city managers. Kaiser was getting more accomplished in two months that past managers had accomplished in years. Powers seems to be seeking the vacant seat on the council. To the delight of city employees, the city would have a council loaded with representatives from government employees unions. "I hope the city is proud" is the comment of Powers, not those concerned with higher fees and an economic recovery. It is time for the fiasco to end and renegotiate a contract with Kaiser. The council should follow the recommendation of the man with business experience and a master's degree in ' government. They need to support his decisions concerning personnel issues and move the city forward like he was contracted to do. Larry F. Douglas Portola Considering the source To follow up on the letter from Chester about the rants and raves of frequent letter writers to this paper: I read the section every week but I read the author's name in'st, ff the letter is from a man from Greenville, I know it will be left-leaning full of unsubstantiated facts. If it's from the man from Lake Davis, it will be right-leaning full of unsubstantiated facts; and if it's from the man from Portola, it will be confusing and unclear as to the point, full of unsubstantiated facts. Now we seem to have a new author from Lake Davis who is so condescending towards the reader that he labels himself as from the left. I wonder how these authors would respond to an impoi'tant topic such as balancing the federal budget? Sadly, I am willing to guess their letters would be exactly the same. Full of finger pointing, backbiting and blame directed towards the other side. All the while offering no realistic suggestions on solving the problem. It seems that partisan politics has so polarized this country that we have become dysfunctional. I still hold out hope that the silent majority will elect people who will solve the issues rather than push their own agendas As for me I will continue to read the letters' authors first. Ken Michael Portola Questions for City Council candidates Here are some serious questions for elected and appointed Portola City Council members; their qualifications and experience to make decisions for the city is a concern. Will they answer each question truthfully and with supporting documents? List names of any council members with previous "private" business experience; (not hiring babysitters) that qualifies them to hire a new city manager? Please document experience. Have any of the council members personally met a payroll for an entire year? What salary will you offer a future city manager? Provide the range. Will the council allow the city manager to hire and fn'e current staff. what duties will the city manager have? List these please. Will the city continue to pay the annual $60200 "retainer" and $200 per hour fees for Steve Grosse Esq., the city attorney, or is his job an "Entitlement"? Do the sever/full-time city employees contribute any amount of their paychecks toward their health care? If so, what percentage do they contribute? Some city employees' family members receive 100 percent of their health care benefits paid by taxpayers even though they don't live under the same roof as the employee. Is Susan Scarlett's job (City finance officer) with the city an "Entitlement" or will this council look for a more affordable CPA? She is currently paid $4,500/month/part time. Will the city implement a drug free work place as city "policy" for all employees? Will you lower water rates until an independent cost analysis can determine a "breakeven" rate? Lastly, how many city employees currently live in Reno, Nev., or outside the 96122 zip code? Under the "Freedom of Information Act" the taxpayers deserve the truth. The council should tell the truth. Hopefully, this newspaper will publish your answers. Trent Saxton Lake Davis Second Civil War No shots have been fired. No blood has been spilled. But a second Civil War is underway with a new breed of angry white rebels taking up where the old Confederacy left off. The Tea Party soldiers of this New Confederacy have seized control of the Republican Party and flexed their muscles in trying to shut down the U.S. government. The same anti-union spirit that flourished in 1860 drives the Tea Party movement which sees itself as resisting the tyranny of an illegitimate Northern president. In 1860, it was the end of state rights that the rebel states feared; today, it's universal access to health care. Let's call this hysteria what it is -- racism. It is no coincidence that 10 of the 11 states of the Old South have refused to expand Medicaid access under the Affordable Care Act. As a result of that decision, the majority of the people who will suffer are poor, black and working class. Welcome to the new normal. These rebels without a cause see President Obama as a Pied Piper of check seekers, out to -strip Tea Party whites of their remaining wealth and privilege and redistribute the spoils to undeserving dark-skinned people. Aren't you glad you don't think this way? Ron Lowe Nevada City Unfortunate for the Supreme Court When reviewing Justice Scalia's voting record, I believe he has rightly been called a "hard core conservative." That in itself is not unfavorable for those who consider themselves hard core conservative, but for a justice of the Supreme Court continually to see issues in only one light is, I believe, unfortunate. Completely ignoring the reason for the 14th Amendment, Scalia does not see it as a civil rights protection for those who have been deprived of their civil rights, but wishes to apply it to others in a way that would deprive minorities a helping hand. This is what Bridget Todd of Washington, D.C., has to say of Scalia's comments regarding a Michigan voter initiative to ban affirmative action. "Apologize for your racist, out-of-touch comments on the 14th Amendment. Ignoring the history of prejudice that led to the passage of the amendment to protect freed slaves after the Civil War, as well as the intense discrimination that still exists today, is offensive and disprespectful toward all Americans who believe in equality and especially to African Americans and other people of color." I understand Scalia's son is even more nimbly sophistic than his father, and just as conservative, if not more. Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Don't sit back and let others do the talking for you. Express yourself in our LETTERS TO THE EDITOR