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George Boardman: Latest example of elected official behaving badly is no laughing matter

George Boardman
Columnist
George Boardman
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: Incentive edition

I’LL LET the clerks handle the checkout until supermarkets give me a discount for doing it myself… THE SACRAMENTO Bee has a lot of nerve referring to Grass Valley as a “sleepy hamlet.” The River City isn’t the most exciting place I’ve ever been… LISTENING TO my contemporaries recall their youthful athletic accomplishments reminds me of a T-shirt I saw several years ago: “The older I get, the better I was”… IT’S DEPRESSING to see how quickly people staked out a position on the Iran nuclear deal without even reading it. That’s what passes for thoughtful deliberation these days … OPERATION JADE Helm 15 started almost a week ago, and no Texans have been rounded up yet. What’s taking so long?…

We can now add Linda Campbell to the list of zany folks we’ve elected to govern the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

Campbell, a 31-year employee of the district who was elected a trustee last November, apparently doesn’t like the Tea Party. That doesn’t make her unique; the Tea Party is a polarizing organization, and people tend to be strongly for or against the group.

But instead of setting a good example for our high school students by engaging the group in a public debate over the Nevada County Tea Party’s policies and principles, Campbell fired off an anonymous email that was sufficiently alarming to cause local party officials to notify police. The following excerpt captures the essence of the diatribe:

“CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE T PARTY IN THE GV 4th of July parade…will be SHOUTING the TRUTH of what evil you traitors support…oh will you coward out and not march…wouldn’t surprise me. T party is the party of bullies, and its well known BULLIES ARE COWARDS.”

Campbell left enough of an Internet trail so that people focused on her as the author, and she fessed up to The Union on July 9 after writing a letter of apology to local Tea Party officials. She said the email was triggered by a burst of emotion after the mass church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

“I should not have sent that email so full of vindictiveness and anger,” she told The Union. “I sincerely apologize if the people who read it felt emotionally distressed with my words.”

An apology does not absolve her of her poor lack of judgment. Campbell may have been acting as a private citizen, but she set a bad example for students she’s supposed to set policy for, and her meltdown does nothing to instill confidence in the leadership of a district that can use more public support.

Linda Campbell will do everybody a favor if she shows the good grace to resign. If she doesn’t resign, she should be voted out of office if she decides to run again in 2018.

More high-speed heartburn

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how small communities on the wrong side of the digital divide suffer: Students without high-speed Internet access at home may struggle to keep up with school assignments, and towns with less access find themselves falling behind economically.

Now the value of a home is being impacted by the availability of Internet service, according to Realtors who say more buyers are rejecting properties without fast Web access. Some studies suggest those buyers are having an effect on home prices.

A 2014 study by University of Wisconsin researchers concluded that fast Internet access outside metropolitan areas could add almost $12,000 to the value of a $440,000 home. Studies in Colorado and New York state produced similar conclusions.

Internet speeds drop dramatically when you get outside metropolitan areas. The FCC reported that as of 2013, 92 percent of urban areas had high-speed Internet (defined as at least 25 megabits per second). Only 47 percent of rural areas had similar service.

A quick scan of real estate ads in The Union indicates this isn’t a problem in western Nevada County yet, but Realtors keep saying we’re always at least six months behind the trends that start in metropolitan areas.

Certainly, the millennials we’re trying to lure here to create the jobs that will keep our children close to home won’t be happy if they find tin can-and-string Internet technology in the homes they want to buy.

The only thing slower than the Internet around here is to effort to get high-speed access.

Pot and salmon

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have long complained about the environmental damage done by pot growers and meth manufacturers: Polluting streams and forests with pesticides and toxic waste, and damaging wildlife and habitat by bulldozing trees and soil.

Scientists are now reporting that water diverted to pot plants is threatening the future of coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in the heart of California’s marijuana industry, the Emerald Triangle.

Scott Bauer, a senior environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, reports that small feeder streams to Redwood Creek in Trinity County, the Eel and other coastal rivers are disappearing because pot growers are stealing the water for their plants.

Couple that with California’s four-year drought and “You’ve lost that whole run of fish,” Bauer said.

The situation isn’t expected to improve anytime soon. It is estimated that pot cultivation in California doubled between 2008 and 2012, and Bauer predicts it will double again based on his recent field observations.

While some pot growers take a more responsible approach, their work is more than offset by rogue growers who are destroying streams and threatening to eliminate salmon, steelhead and several frog species. Just last year, Fish and Wildlife was contacted 24,000 times about illegal water usage.

Can we solve this problem by legalizing pot and then regulating the growers? What we know for sure is that the current system isn’t working.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union.


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