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Opinion

Jodi McDonald: Economic benefits of marijuana a smoke screen

February 9, 2016 — 

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Heather Burke: What the county isn't telling us about its cannabis initiative

February 9, 2016 — 

Only once in the conversation about local cannabis cultivation have we heard the county suggest “an overturn of the ban could lead to the formation of a committee that would search for alternatives to an outright prohibition on outdoor grows.” 

Not a word of this possibility was hinted at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 12, nor in the official numerous statements in the fallout over the poorly drafted language of the two enactments, nor even in the purported “intent” language the board ratified Tuesday.

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Carrtoon 2.10.16

February 9, 2016 — 

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Patrick Wagner: There are other options to 'statist' medicine

February 8, 2016 — 

Here’s a question. On an average day in America, what percentage of health care services are distributed in acute care hospitals compared to outpatient services?

Another question is about money. What percentage is spent on an average day in each of these settings (spent vs. squandered and stolen)?

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Thomas Elias: Will 'NASCAR' initiative produce naked lawmakers?

February 8, 2016 — 

Turn on the TV next time a NASCAR stock car race is on and get a good look at the coveralls worn by the drivers. They are covered with patches bearing the logos of many and varied companies that sponsor their automotive efforts, from oil and carmaking companies to breweries.

Now imagine a normally staid state legislative hearing, where politicians of both major parties today show up in conservative business suits. Those folks could soon look like a stock car racing crew if an initiative now circulating makes the November ballot and passes.

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An alternative alternate universe

February 7, 2016 — 

As I read George Rebane’s Other Voices column (Swan Song from an Alternate Universe, Jan. 16, 2016) I found a familiar, well-practiced response welling up in me. He spoke of President Obama and his supporters as inhabiting “an alternate universe” and then went on to list his damning criticisms of this President’s administration.

I began to scroll through my list of rebuttal points. I am a bit of a numbers junky and somewhat a victim of my training as a scientist — I may overvalue objectivity at times. I try to form my understanding of issues from the “raw data” up rather than starting with a preconceived model of how things “should” work.

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Clarification

February 7, 2016 — 

Clarification

On Jan. 21, I believe a comment in The Union by a representative of Keep it California was not true — I feel she was just given wrong information. Thank you for your clarification describing the two processes allowing measures to reach the ballot. It proves there is no moratorium on learning something new.

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George Boardman: Is Big Tobacco good for the legal pot industry? We live in strange times

February 7, 2016 — 

I never thought the time would come when I stood up for tobacco companies, but we live in strange times.

That thought occurred to me last week when I read that one of America’s leading critics of the cigarette industry is raising the specter of Big Tobacco taking over the recreational marijuana business. Apparently the opponents of legal pot will do anything they can to scare people.

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Jeff Vogel: The most dangerous religion of all

February 5, 2016 — 

We live in an age of terrifying high-definition spectacles, with beheadings and massacres some of the horrors that fill us all with fear and dread — the tragic killings in Paris and San Bernardino the most recent horrors to confront us.

These gruesome spectacles have profound side effects on our perspective. They obscure the brutality and terror caused by our bombs and drones (such as our bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan) and they distract our attention from those predators who cause suffering on a far grander scale than any jihadists.

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Robert Whiteaker: A tale of two gods

February 5, 2016 — 

Why does Jihad Joe want to kill me? I don’t think it’s personal, but if I were in the right place at the right time I could get killed by a Jihadist.

I have looked into this and it turns out that if he blows us both up he gets to go straight to a wonderful life in heaven, despite whatever sins he has committed, and I don’t. That’s a pretty good way to recruit terrorists: “Bomb yourself into Heaven now. Why wait and risk not getting there?”

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Will PUC cave to yet another big, brazen utility

February 5, 2016 — 

To understand the brazen quality of the latest rate increase application from California’s third-largest electric utility, it’s necessary to step back in time, to the scene when wildfires raged across some of the prettiest parts of San Diego County in 2007.

Those fires would eventually kill 13 persons, even more than the notorious natural gas pipeline explosion that came about three years later in San Bruno, which ever since has plagued the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric. Physical damage from the fire was far more widespread.

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The biggest problem of our lifetime

February 5, 2016 — 

I just finished reading another misleading column from Mr. Sauer, and again wondered at his motivation to put out such hot air.

The bottom line is that there is human caused climate change and it is accelerating faster — than those scientists he so dismisses — than originally surmised.

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Marijuana the least of my concerns

February 5, 2016 — 

How much does marijuana affect our lives? As much as the inhumane treatment of animals raised for food? Pesticides (and herbicides) used on crops before and after harvest (Ever wonder why potato growers don’t eat market bound potatoes?)? People addicted to Oxycodone because it’s less expensive than marijuana? People working for $9 an hour but not given 40 hours because health benefits would have to be provided? Children who reach fifth grade and can’t read above a second grade level? Racism? Intolerance? Greed? Hungry American children? Greedy corporations and stockholders? Rising water levels? Need I go on? No, marijuana’s effect is minimal.

I’m a non-smoker, non-user, nor a grower. But, it made sense when one scrip equaled six plants. To check the paperwork and count the plants, enforcement flew over. Keep out criminals? Count the plants, check the scrips, check the growing conditions.

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Proposed start times at Lyman Gilmore a bad idea

February 5, 2016 — 

Nevada Union High School plans to, or already has, moved its starting time to 8:30 a.m. I’m a Lyman Gilmore student and this is unfair because my bus ride is one hour already. So if we take their offer of starting school at 10 a.m., I’d get off the bus at 6 p.m. — past my dinner time of 5 p.m., which gives me no time to go outside which is a big problem for children who already spend their afternoons playing video games. If we take the 7 a.m. time slot, we will get up near 5 a.m. in the morning — too early for us. We will be too tired to learn in class, which takes down our chances for college. I’d expect NU to be able to wake up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning with ease since most have been doing this for years. If we ride with them we will be exposed to their inappropriate behaviors, so maybe with your help we can get them to change this idea.

Isabel Harrison, sixth grade

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Keep it California

February 5, 2016 — 

I want to thank The Union’s Editorial Board for starting to educate the public about the risks and realities of dividing California into two states, in their Jan. 30 editorial.

This article mentions that estimated budget for the 51st new state does not reflect the collection of corporate taxes. The last thing we would want to do is give big corporation more tax breaks. Remember, the devil is in the details — educate yourself before you vote.

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Fleeing the Golden State

February 5, 2016 — 

Fifty years ago my family moved to California from the Midwest for better opportunities. At the time California had the best highways, the best schools, more space and a vibrant growing economy.

This fall, both my children moved out of California to other states. Why? For better opportunities.

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Enjoy your waffles in peace

February 4, 2016 — 

I was recently watching “Judge Janine” on Fox News when a retired military officer was the guest. The issue was “gun control” and this officer made a very dumb statement. He wanted every citizen who could legally purchase a firearm to get a concealed carry permit and buy a gun. If you want more gun violence, there is your prescription! Imagine going into Walmart and every adult is armed, including grandma? What happens when grandma drops the gun from her purse, or the grandkids get at it. What happens if she loses it? This is all getting to be such utter nonsense. What about concealed carriers who drift into serious mental problems or drug addiction but never reveal that to law enforcement? My dad has dug bullets out of his house because the idiots target shooting nearby were oblivious to anything but their own fun. I’m a gun owner, and pride myself on safe and responsible use, but there are LOTS of gun owners who were legal enough to get one but aren’t responsible enough to own one. They’re the juvenile types that carry guns in their glove compartment and love to fire full clips just to listen to the sound. The idea that that kind of person could get a concealed carry permit and wear his gun while mingling in society is very disturbing. It might not be illegal, but it’s part of the reason that many police chiefs and sheriffs don’t want the public to conceal carry unless they have a justifiable reason and are well trained. Add to this concern the recent news that Texas has joined the states that allow “open carry” in general society, with varying restrictions. So you go into Waffle House and here’s some dude dressed in camo with a 10mm Glock strapped to his waist. You don’t know who he is, what his mind-set is, or what he’s about to do, or not do, especially if he’s alone and not talking. Is he having a bad day? Down on the world? Down on society? Do you think you might feel a bit uneasy as you sip your coffee? Businesses have the right to ban guns on their premises, but in a state like Texas that might upset a significant part of the customer base. So, do you keep the open carry crowd happy and lose the customers who refuse to be around it? As I said, I’m a gun owner and I support the Second Amendment, but the only time I will sit next to a gun toting stranger in Waffle House is if he’s wearing a uniform and badge. Even if the officer is having a bad day, I’m reasonably certain he isn’t going to open fire on the breakfast crowd. I don’t care if such a thing is rare, I don’t want to test it while I’m buttering my toast (imagine two strangers with guns and they get into an argument ... time to head for the exit). The juveniles (young and old) who want to play Wyatt Earp, just because they can, need to grow up. What kind of a warped intellect would even do such a thing? To make matters worse, in Texas they’re even allowing open carry in their 10 mental institutions! Employees and patients are barred from bringing in weapons but visitors can openly carry guns into a campus full of people suffering from severe psychiatric conditions. As Texas state representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) said, “It’s the responsibility of the operators of the facilities to ensure that the patients are not around dangerous weapons.” I think we should add the Texas legislature to their list of mental institutions. Fortunately, California doesn’t allow open carry. Folks, the Second Amendment isn’t going away, you’ll always have the right to own a vast array of firearms, and you can get a concealed carry permit if the law thinks you have a reasonable need to do so. Let’s leave it at that and not pay attention to the “they’re going to take all our guns away!” fringe. Ain’t going to happen. You might lose extreme capacity clips but so what? They’re not necessary for the shooting sports so leave them on the battlefield. If entities like colleges want to have more armed security, then hire more security personnel and perhaps train and equip some of the teachers, but absolutely don’t let all the kids bring guns to school! Please, let’s keep this rational. Now, go enjoy your waffles in peace.

Gregg Littell lives in Auburn.

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LaMalfa: conservative when convenient

February 4, 2016 — 

Finally! After years of dysfunction and abysmal public approval lawmakers passed a $1.1 trillion budget and a $680 billion tax ”relief” package. This shows just how easily a fractious legislature can seem functional when it comes to spending money. Cooperation is expensive.

Who benefits from this bipartisan borrowing spree? The permanent and extended tax breaks for business and individuals mean almost everyone is a winner. Why not? It’s an election year.

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Jim Hemig: Man's best friend

February 4, 2016 — 

This is a story about a dog. Man’s best friend.

Growing up in Morgan Hill, just south of San Jose, in what is now the Silicon Valley, my two brothers and I used to play on our swing set in the backyard after school with our faithful dog Buffy always under foot.

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Fee for high emissions producers

February 3, 2016 — 

In her letter to the editor, Edlin Patterson seems discouraged after Paris (Jan. 15), but I am encouraged by the number of countries who attended with concern. America must lead, but our Congress is not demonstrating willingness to take the monumental action to counter changes itemized by Patterson. Some studies do establish that Americans are ready for the necessary changes. For example, a large majority (60 percent) say that protecting the environment will improve economic growth and provide new jobs.

The International Energy Agency reports switching fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy will cost $44 trillion between now and 2050. MIT has computed that “doing nothing” will cost $44 trillion by 2050 with our world suffering disastrous crises. How can we delay?

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Our freedom just as secure as ever

February 3, 2016 — 

Haven’t we had enough of Ted Cruz and the Tea Party Republican base and their ignorant, xenophobic, racist lies about what is wrong with the country? The country is doing fine and heading into boom times again; people are becoming more understanding and more tolerant of each other no matter what Fox News says.

The freedoms we enjoy today haven’t changed and are just as secure as ever. These misfits in the Republican and Tea Party are just upset because of the fact that the president is black. They have created some delusional Orwellian fantasy in their heads, that they’ve ruminated on for so long, that they’ve actually come to believe it. Get over yourselves and your pseudo patriotism and join the rest of America as it glides into the future.

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Trump's loss in Iowa could point to bigger problems ahead

February 3, 2016 — 

Donald Trump’s supporters showed up at the Sheraton Monday night fully expecting their man to win the Iowa caucuses. And why shouldn’t they? Trump had held a lead of varying sizes in 13 of the last 13 polls listed in the RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls. How could that not win?

Months ago, before Trump took the lead in Iowa, a number of analysts argued that he wasn’t a “good fit” for the state’s Republican electorate, made up heavily of voters who describe themselves as born-again evangelical Christians. Then Trump took the lead and —in the polls at least—fought off challenges from Ben Carson and eventual winner Ted Cruz. So analysts thought Trump might not be so bad a fit after all.

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The terror of Flint's poisoned water

February 3, 2016 — 

Less than one month after the attacks of Sept. 11, a senior FBI official, Ronald Dick, told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, “Due to the vital importance of water to all life forms ... the FBI considers all threats to attack the water supply as serious threats.” In 2003, a UPI article reported that an al-Qaida operative “(does not rule out) using Sarin gas and poisoning drinking water in U.S. and Western cities.’” Where the terrorists have failed to mount any attack on a water supply, the Michigan state government has succeeded. In the city of Flint, lead-poisoned water has been piped into homes and offices since 2014, causing widespread illness and potentially permanent brain damage among its youngest residents.

Michigan has one of the most severe “emergency manager” laws in the country, allowing the governor to appoint an unelected agent to take over local governments when those locales or institutions have been deemed to be in a “financial emergency.” Republican Gov. Rick Snyder pushed for and obtained two bills that strengthened the law, and has used it aggressively to impose his version of fiscal austerity on cities like Detroit, Benton Harbor, several large school districts and, now most notoriously, on Flint. In every case but one, the emergency manager has taken over cities that are majority African-American. The emergency manager is granted sweeping powers to override local, democratically elected governments and to make cuts to budgets, sell public property, cancel or renegotiate labor contracts and essentially govern like a dictator. In April 2014, Darnell Earley, the fourth of five Flint emergency managers appointed by Snyder, unilaterally decided to switch Flint’s water source from Detroit’s water system, with water from Lake Huron that they had been using for 50 years, to the long-contaminated Flint River. Flint residents immediately noticed discoloration and bad smells from the water, and experienced an array of health impacts, like rashes and hair loss. In October 2014, General Motors decided it would no longer use Flint city water in its plants, as it was corroding metal car parts. Later, trihalomethanes, a toxic byproduct of water treatment, were found in the water. Despite that, the water was declared safe by officials. At the same time, as revealed in an email later obtained by Progress Michigan, the state began shipping coolers of clean, potable water to the state office building in Flint. This was more than a year before Gov. Snyder would admit that the water was contaminated. Ongoing activism by Flint residents whose children were sick attracted the involvement of water researchers from Virginia Tech, who found that 10,000 residents had been exposed to elevated lead levels. It took out-of-state researchers from Virginia to travel all the way to Michigan to conduct the comprehensive tests needed. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha then got involved. She is the director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University. She discovered an alarming connection between rising blood lead levels in Flint’s children with the switch to the Flint River as a water source.

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Darrell Berkheimer: A major media failure is a plague on our political system

February 2, 2016 — 

The same nonsense occurs during every presidential election campaign, and our national news media are to blame for much of it.

The presidential candidates make wild claims about what they will do if elected, and the national news media fail to challenge those claims, turning the campaign into a nonsensical horse-race.

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Norm Sauer: What $100 billion a year buys

February 1, 2016 — 

Leaders from 186 countries made an agreement at the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris in December, but it is not what President Obama wants us to believe or what others have called “monumental.”

Most Americans should be shocked to learn not only did our government pledge strong emissions cuts and ask for none in return, but it is using American tax dollars to “grease the wheels.” And, many Americans will be angered to learn the true objective of our environmental activists.

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Hilary Hodge: Keep up the good work, Bitney College Prep

February 1, 2016 — 

I was invited by my friend, an English teacher at Bitney College Prep High School, to teach an intersession class on entrepreneurship to high school students. I was asked because of my role as executive director with Sierra Commons, Nevada County’s Business Ignitor, and I agreed because it sounded like an interesting experience.

I’ll admit that I was nervous. I was a teenager myself not too long ago.

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Jason Kolb: Nevada County missing opportunity

February 1, 2016 — 

My family and I are all very appalled at the recent decision by the Board of Supervisors to fancy tradition over reason.

We should be discussing how Nevada County could benefit from the new cannabis permit system. We should be discussing the new jobs, the new startup opportunities, and the new revenues these permits could bring to the county. We should be pushing our community to be more than growers. We should be pushing the next Nevada Union grad to start an analytical lab to test cannabis, to build the next logistical cannabis app, to start an cannabis insurance firm, to start a security firm, or to start a transpiration company.

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Lisa LaBarbera: Food for thought

February 1, 2016 — 

I guess I am confused. How can 12 marijuana plants not be enough for one person with a legal marijuana prescription?

And while having to grow indoors the cost may increase, the quality control will increase and lack of animals getting into the crop will decrease.

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'Time to stop the revolving door in Sacramento'

February 1, 2016 — 

There’s probably no hope of stopping the revolving door in Washington, D.C. anytime soon. The constant cycle of longtime Congress members and senators moving downtown from the Capitol to take high-paying jobs as lobbyists can only be ended by Congress itself – and the prospect of big paychecks to come makes it very unlikely many so-called “citizen politicians” will ever vote to end that.

But Sacramento is different. On the surface, it’s much the same, of course. Legislators move easily and often from the Assembly or state Senate to lobbying jobs just as lucrative as any to be had in the nation’s capital. The difference is that the people of California can effectively end this practice anytime they like, via the initiative process.

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George Boardman: Biomass energy struggles thanks to fickle officials who pick the winners

February 1, 2016 — 

While California’s large biomass energy plants are rapidly becoming America’s new industrial dinosaurs, smaller plants envisioned for western Nevada County and Camptonville are on track to become operational in the next couple of years.

The story of why big plants are failing and small plants still have a future is a cautionary tale of what can happen when political and economic currents change, and fickle government bureaucrats pick winners and losers.

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