Opinion Columns

Jim Firth: The new water reality

July 31, 2015 — 

Climate Change is real. This opinion piece is not about whom or what caused it, but rather how we deal with it. I did write an opinion piece last April entitled, “When the Well Runs Dry” that summarized conditions that may lead up to mandatory water rationing. Fortunately, we’re not there — yet.

The following statement was in the April piece: “Western Nevada County doesn’t possess the aquifer storage ability that Truckee and much of the rest of rural California enjoy. The water in western Nevada County comes from rainfall and melting snowpack. We haven’t seen much of either in the last six months or three years.” California’s biggest source of fresh water is in peril. A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change shows the Sierra snowpack shrinking substantially in the years to come.

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Kathryn Jean Lopez: Mourning and second chances

July 30, 2015 — 

“This pain will come as a thief in the night. It will take away your peace if you let it; it will drag you into the harsh darkness of the misery of loss,” Maria Grizetti writes about the pain of losing a child.

And what if no one is mourning with you? What if you’re told there is nothing to mourn?

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Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: Cincinnati and the murder of Samuel Dubose

July 30, 2015 — 

A stunning indictment has been handed down in Cincinnati, focusing attention again on police killings of people of color. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced that University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing has been charged with murder, for the July 19 shooting death of Samuel DuBose, a 43-year-old African-American man. Tensing pulled over DuBose because he was driving a car without a front license plate. As Deter said in his news conference: “He was dealing with someone without a front license plate. This is, in the vernacular, a very chicken-crap stop.” Tensing wanted to see DuBose’s driver’s license. When DuBose said he didn’t have it, Tensing made a motion to open DuBose’s car door. Within seconds of this interaction, Tensing’s right hand swung into the video frame with a pistol. He fired a single shot into DuBose’s head, which sent the car, with DuBose dead behind the wheel, rolling down the street, where it crashed to a halt. Before Tensing’s body-camera video was released, the officer claimed that his arm had been caught in the car, and he was dragged down the street. Another officer, Phillip Kidd, reported he saw the same thing. The video clearly debunked their version. Kidd should be arrested, too. Prosecutor Deters released Officer Tensing’s body-camera video, stating, “This is without question a murder.”

DuBose was killed about one week after another deadly traffic stop. In that case, in Waller County, Texas, 28-year-old Sandra Bland, also African-American, was pulled over by Brian Encinia, a white Texas State Trooper. Encinia claimed she had not signaled a lane change. The trooper’s dashboard camera recorded the stop. He demanded that Bland put out her cigarette, then told her to get out of the car, saying: “I’m giving you a lawful order. I am going to drag you out of there.” Bland can be heard saying: “You opened my car door. So you’re threatening to drag me out of my own car?” Encinia then shouted, “Get out of the car!” When Bland replied: “And then you’re going to assault me? Wow,” Encinia, brandishing a Taser, shouted: “I will light you up! Get out! Now!”

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Hilary Hodge: Have you Yelped today?

July 29, 2015 — 

The people of Nevada County need to start using the app, “Yelp.”

I love that the people of Nevada County would rather ask a neighbor or browse a local forum for a restaurant recommendation before consulting a website or an app for dining advice. It shows that we have small-town pride and that we are willing to support our small businesses on a peer-to-peer level. I have enjoyed many nights out based on friends’ recommendations.

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Sonia Delgadillo: Communication, community input not a priority for Nevada Joint Union board of trustees

July 29, 2015 — 

The Nevada Joint Union High School District Board held a special meeting on July 20 where it voted on important issues, yet notice about the meeting was difficult to come by and no media reported on the outcome. The following decisions impact our students.

First, though just a month earlier the district submitted a budget and LCAP (which identifies educational priorities) for public comment and a vote, at this meeting, a new expenditure of nearly $230,000 for Chromebooks was approved. This will come from additional one-time funding of $530 per student the state approved in June and added they had a plan for the remainder of these funds which they will present in August. District staff stated this funding came as a surprise in June implying that there was no opportunity for public input. The legislation is clear — as part of the new funding formula, the community is to have input into development of educational priorities.

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David Langness: Donate to the cause

July 28, 2015 — 

My wife and I decided to move to Nevada City two and a half years ago, stunned by the beauty we found here. I don’t mean the physical beauty — the mountains, meadows, forests and rivers — although the setting and the gorgeous environment definitely attracted us.

Instead, I mean the inner beauty of the people we had the privilege of meeting.

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April Reese: Nevada County not on display at California State Fair

July 27, 2015 — 

On our recent trip to the California State Fair this past weekend my mom and I were excited to go and see all of the county displays. As we walked around the building with the displays we couldn’t find Nevada County’s display.

We went up to the information booth and asked, “Where was Nevada County’s booth?” We were told that Nevada County did not have one and that out of the 58 counties in California only 23 were represented.

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George Runner: Attempts to change Proposition 13 are misguided

July 25, 2015 — 

There’s been no shortage of attempts in recent years in the State Legislature to overhaul Proposition 13 — California’s landmark initiative protecting homeowners and small business owners from out-of-control property taxes.

Multiple bills have taken aim at the proposition, but the most popular among these bills pushes the so-called “split roll” property tax, which would eliminate Prop. 13 protections for job creators but leave them in place for homeowners. This split roll idea is especially favored by lawmakers who are eager to bring more money into state coffers.

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Bruce Puphal: Smokey Bear and fire danger

July 25, 2015 — 

As you drive around Nevada County, you will most likely see several figurines of Smokey Bear (also called Smokey the Bear) at various locations. Have you ever wondered just how Smokey came to be, or what information is used to determine the fire danger level that is posted on Smokey Bear signs during the year?

I would like to take some time to offer an explanation of these two questions.

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Linda Jack: A look back before mass vaccinations

July 24, 2015 — 

Emily Lavin’s July 8 article in The Union about the immunization law signed by Gov. Brown suggests that the issue of vaccination of children will likely continue to be a topic of debate. California’s anti-vaccination advocates seem determined to try to overturn the law, or at least expand the personal exemption option.

In my opinion, the vaccination discussion would be better informed if we considered the experiences of our 19th- and 20th-century ancestors who knew firsthand the consequences of living in an unvaccinated population.

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Kathryn Lopez: Planned Parenthood's travesty of sacrifice

July 23, 2015 — 

“We were at one, blood to blood, as no other kind of union could make us,” the English essayist Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, recalling giving his wife his own blood during a critical medical moment.

“To give life,” he continued, “this was what love was for; to give it in all circumstances and eventualities, whether God creating the universe, or a male and female creating another human being; whereas to destroy life, be it in a fertilized ovum one second after conception, or in some octogenarian or sufferer from a fatal illness, was the denial of life and so the antithesis of love.”

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Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: A Cuban flag flies again in Washington

July 23, 2015 — 

On July 20, history was made in Washington, D.C., and in Havana, Cuba. As the Cuban national anthem was played, the island nation’s flag was raised over its embassy in Washington, DC. The embassy, as well as the U.S. embassy in Havana, was open for business, for the first time in 54 years. The Washington ceremony was attended by more than 500 people. Earlier in the day, the U.S. State Department elevated the Cuban flag to a place of honor, joining 150 other national flags on display in the main lobby. While diplomatic relations have been restored, the crushing U.S. economic embargo against Cuba is still in place, and the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay remains open. More than 100 prisoners are still languishing there, many of them cleared for release for over a decade.

The Cuban Embassy was filled beyond capacity with Cuban and American diplomats, government officials, artists, musicians and activists. Many who gathered there had been working for this moment for decades. “It is the result of many years of struggle by many people — the Cuban people, but many friends here in this country and around the globe,” Ricardo Alarcon said at the embassy. He was a student leader during the revolution, eventually becoming Cuba’s foreign minister and president of the National Assembly, Cuba’s parliament. Now retired, he said, “It has to be recognized as a victory for us, for our people, and for all those who were opposing the U.S. policies during this half a century.”

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Bill Boyl: Hitchhiking to Benghazi 2

July 22, 2015 — 

According to a June USA Today article, it seems that the U.S. Navy, following two years of budget cuts, has conceded that it lacks the necessary wherewithal to keep Marine Corps amphibious forces stationed within striking distance of American assets in known hotspots (read North Africa).

But not to worry: the U.S. is exploring placing U.S. Marines on other nations’ ships, possibly under NATO control, and trusting that they will deliver our guys where and when they are needed.

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Jackie Wapp: Walk with me

July 21, 2015 — 

Please treat everything and everyone kindly. Be courteous. Be genuine. Be giving with your time. Volunteer to do something good. Give good advice. Don’t hurt people.

I believe we could use more level-headed respectful and considerate people in this world. People who can look you in the eye with ease, friendliness and communication. Never with indifference, but with caring and concern.

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R,L, Crabb: It takes a village idiot

July 21, 2015 — 

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Scott Costa: Fracking and the California drought

July 20, 2015 — 

Back in early April, Gov. Jerry Brown did something unprecedented in California: He imposed a 25 percent mandatory water reduction for the state. This was the first time such an order was given by a governor of California and it made sense.

With the snowpack at historical lows and with reservoirs nearing empty, something needed to be done since the state was quickly running out of water after four years of drought.

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Curtis Walker: What are Hillary Clinton's accomplishments?

July 18, 2015 — 

On July 6, the writer of a letter to the editor (Nancy McDonald) went on and on, and on, about this burning question on the right concerning what Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments are and finding no answer. Chew on these for a while, a good starter summary and list:

First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School. Former director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic. Former civil litigation attorney. Former law professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Former First Lady of Arkansas. Former First Lady of the United States, and the first First Lady in U.S. history to hold a postgraduate degree. First former First Lady in U.S. history to be elected to the United States Senate. Elected by the state of New York to serve two terms in the United States Senate. Former U.S. Secretary of State. Grammy award winner. Author ...”

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Kent Treiber: Injustice continues regarding the right to die

July 18, 2015 — 

As reported in The Union on July 8, California Senate bill 128, the End of Life Option Act, has been shelved in the Assembly, largely due to pressure from the Catholic church.

Your state government continues to insist that, even though you’re terminally ill with a hideous disease, you must live every horrible minute until your “natural” death.

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Janice O'Brien: And how shall we respond?

July 18, 2015 — 

When bad things happen to good people, how shall we respond?

Recently, a very dear friend and parishioner of St. Patrick’s Church in Grass Valley was beaten unconscious in the early hours of the morning. She was doing her volunteer work of opening the church for Sunday Mass.

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Elissa Karim: Nuclear deal with Iran is major step toward peace

July 18, 2015 — 

As a concerned student and Global Zero activist, I understand the immense threat of adding another country to the nuclear club, whether it be Iran or Indonesia or Canada.

As a young child who knew little of WMDs and political maneuvering, war and bombs seemed wasteful to me. In lives, in money, in effort.

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Judy Petrie: A few words in defense of Milhous

July 17, 2015 — 

A couple weeks ago The Union ran a story about incidents that allegedly occurred at the Milhous Boy’s Ranch. This article presented a very one-sided picture of the facility and what they do there.

My primary criticism of your reporting is that there seemed to be no true investigation of facts but just a relating of information available and printing it whether factual or not. How about finding out the truth?

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Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: Torture, impunity and The American Psychological Association

July 16, 2015 — 

It has been almost a year since President Barack Obama admitted, “in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. ... we tortured some folks.” The administration of Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, carefully crafted a legal rationale enabling what it called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which is no more than a euphemism for torture. From the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay to the dungeons of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram air base in Afghanistan, countless hundreds, if not thousands, of people were subjected to torture, all in the name of the “Global War on Terror.” With the exception of a few low-level soldiers at Abu Ghraib, not one person has been held accountable. The only high-level person sent to prison over torture was John Kiriakou — not for conducting torture, but for exposing it, as a whistleblower.

The legal facade behind which these heinous acts were conducted relied heavily on the cooperation of professional psychologists, who trained and advised the interrogators and supervised the progress of the “breaking” of prisoners. This cooperation, in turn, was dependent on an official seal of approval from the American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization of psychologists in the world. In 2006, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association both barred their members from taking part in military interrogations.

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Kathryn Jean Lopez: Freedom and its responsibilities

July 16, 2015 — 

As a nation last week, we celebrated the Declaration of Independence, which announced our freedom from Great Britain. But what is freedom, anyway? Our debates aren’t worth a dime without knowing what we’re seeking to protect and nourish in our politics.

Brad Thor, the best-selling novelist whose most recent book is “Code of Conduct,” tells me: “Freedom is the ability to make the choices that I believe are best for myself and my family without the coercion of the state. It is being able to stand for what I believe in without dreading a knock upon my door in the middle of the night. It is participating in the public square, along with its many competing voices, and competing in the intellectual combat of rigorous debate without fear of reprisal — especially when my speech seeks to limit/turn back the growth of government and shine the light on the encroaching darkness of tyranny. It is, in short, my control of my life, my fortune and my destiny.”

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Lynn Wenzel: The Constitution is a living document

July 15, 2015 — 

If, historically, in handing down decisions, the Supreme Court had adhered only to the 10th Amendment to the Constitution (States Rights), we would, no doubt, still have “back of the bus” practices, Jim Crow, unequal education and “White-Colored” drinking fountains. The equal protection clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments trump that.

The question was, “Does the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines the term ‘marriage’ under federal law as a ‘legal union between one man and one woman’ deprive same-sex couples who are legally married under state laws, of their Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection under the law.” The answer was yes.

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Dick Milhous: More clarity shows errors are rare at Milhous Children's Services

July 14, 2015 — 

We are writing to provide needed clarification to The Union’s July 3 story “Sexual allegation against Milhous Children’s Services dismissed; facility’s reporting still murky.”

The story misrepresents the findings of the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) of the State Department of Social Services. As you report, CCLD dismissed the misconduct allegation as “unfounded.”

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R.L. Crabb: It takes a village idiot

July 14, 2015 — 

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Rhone Resch: California sets record; surpasses UK, France, Spain in installed solar capacity

July 13, 2015 — 

If California was a nation, it would rank sixth in the world in installed solar energy capacity. That’s pretty amazing — and one of the key takeaways from the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, which was just released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Today, California has more solar assets than nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia and Belgium, becoming the first state in the U.S. to top 10,000 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity and cementing its place as America’s solar leader.

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Andrew Braugh: Northern California spring water sources key to weathering drought and climate change

July 11, 2015 — 

The winter of 2015 was the driest winter in California’s recorded history. But despite the great drought — and perhaps the worst arid spell for California in 1,200 years — spring-fed water flows steadily in Northern California.

You read that correctly. Even with a fourth consecutive summer of record setting drought, water from the depths of Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, and the Medicine Lake Volcano rises insistently to the surface providing life for people, fish and wildlife, agriculture and hydropower.

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Ted Gaines: Protecting privacy rights

July 11, 2015 — 

Technology’s miraculous leaps forward bring unimaginable benefits to us all. Life-saving medical procedures, limitless entertainment options, wealth building productivity tools and more change our lives for the better.

But as with all tools, their benefit – or harm – depends on the intent of the user. That is why this legislative session I’m paying special attention to the drone revolution and pushing bills to enhance public safety.

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Valentina Parkman: ASPOA needs leadership that will unite Alta Sierra

July 11, 2015 — 

ASPOA removed a community asset that graced our entry which was county approved over four years ago. How can a community heal or “move on” when every time we enter or leave via Highway 49 we see what ASPOA has done to a once vibrant gateway?

One has to ask if they truly want to mend the community. Why does ASPOA continue to call people who opposed the HOA “fearmongers and liars” through letters to The Union.

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