Monday, May 16, 2016

Elections and Other Thoughts

Not long after I moved into Amador County I discovered that local politics was the biggest intramural sport here. This year is no exception. A candidate question and answer was in last Friday’s Ledger Dispatch. Amber Hoiska stated that “my desire (is) to restore a sense of altruism, civility and democracy to Amador County.” When did it ever leave? Or does she mean that if Amador doesn’t meet her preconceived point of view than it lacks altruism and is uncivil and undemocratic? She continues with: “We need to better use our transportation taxes.” But she has provided no formation to substantiate this assertion. She appears to be trying to sell an excuse while at the same time opposing tax revenue generators such as Newman Ridge which she feels is “unnecessary”. That statement also assumes that some authority other than the marketplace should decide what is necessary.

Regarding the General Plan Ms. Hoiska states: “We have to make some compromises.” Who compromises what with whom? We already have an anti rural living Agenda 21 style draft General Plan rather expensively written by a consulting firm selected by a stacked process. The situation in Calaveras County is sensible with room for compromise, but ours is not since our basic way of life and freedoms are being threatened. But she somehow sees herself as: “I uniquely understand the needs of working families and young families.” And while I have no reason to doubt her understanding, I fail to see what uniqueness she possesses. In my both professional and citizen experience, I have seen people in positions of decision making run the gauntlet from real understanding to utter disdain for those they were supposed to serve.

The invented election issue of Pine Grove being in three supervisorial districts was clarified by incumbent Richard Forster when he discussed the related issue of Pine Grove incorporation by saying: “I have not heard a massive outcry from voters for change.” However, Frank Axe stated: “I support forming a citizen redistricting commission to start work on this problem so we’re ready for the next census.” What is the point of projecting numbers and testing hypothesizes which will only waste people’s time and some public resources before the official figures? It’s hardly a secret that developments in Plymouth and Ione will shift population eastward and most likely solve this perceived problem.

Mr. Axe went on to cite: “…excessive county supervisor compensation.” Considering what they put up with, I consider the supervisors underpaid. Did Mr. Axe consider his salary in prior positions to be excessive? He goes on to say: “I support adding policies to the county general plan to conserve viewsheds, provided the county also develops ways to pay landowners for easements.” Based on this statement, he either hasn’t read the draft General Plan or doesn’t understand it. Scenic viewsheds, in the plan, have governing authority over other decisions. Paying to preserve them means either more public expenditure (taxes) and/or a developer fee that makes housing more expensive. This entails, just like his proposal about a pre-census commission did, more government involvement and expense.

Mr. Axe also wants the General Plan to make sure the plan reflects what the citizens said they wanted which includes keep development in towns. Looking at the way people now live in Amador County it’s blatantly obvious that people want to live on or near the land. However, environmental activists with voices louder than their numbers appear to have his ear. The draft General Plan is an Agenda 21 cookie cutter plan that slowly forces us formerly free Americans off the land, except for the affluent few, into strategic hamlets. I can only support a candidate that supports our traditional rights to live where we want to live.

Mr. Axe continues with: “I will listen to and work with everyone, regardless of … how long they’ve been here.” Apparently, he is referring to his own experience and attitude and those of his like minded associates with their limited Utopian and primarily tourist vision for Amador County. I moved here a total stranger and had no problem being listened to, nor did anyone else I know. He believes we need: “…a countywide, long term economic plan.” This must assume that government and committees are the answer (because that has worked so well elsewhere?), rather than individual initiative. Certainly an economic plan can create an infrastructure that enables individual initiative, but we already have that. We also have a climate here where something as simple as a chain store proposal or a new quarry in a quarrying area becomes open warfare.

In sharp contrast, Louis Boitano was a breath of fresh air and common sense. He said: “I think we should relax the sign ordinance to help promote businesses in these challenging times (and) Our local long-term economic plan needs to include natural resources.” Regarding the complaints of some about the delayed General Plan he said: “We are working…to carefully address the 1,840 comments…Most of those comments are from the same environmental group.”

That issue of the endless comments was rebuffed, in that same issue of the Ledger, by the Foothill Conservancy’s executive director Cecily Smith. She felt that all those comments were necessary because the plan was “…vague, weak, legally inadequate…” What that remark tells us is that the draft General Plan does not meet the desires of the Foothill Conservancy and little else of value or truth. That Ledger also had a letter to our planning director about the General Plan and fire safety from Edith Hannigan, a board consultant to the State Responsibility Area. She states that we are in danger: “…given the growth pressure faced by Amador County.” Considering that we are losing population along with a declining economy, there is no substance to her fear inducing tactic.

This election season, both locally and nationally, reminds me of that common paraphrase of a Winston Churchill remark: “…democracy is the worst possible way to make decisions, except that it is better than any other way.”

Copyright 2016, Mark L. Bennett


  1. It is a given that politicians say things during a campaign that they don’t immediately back up with examples or details. What Ms. Hoiska, and the others you take issue with, say is no different than Donald Trump saying that he is “going to make America great again”, without explaining how except in very general terms. Or saying that he is “not a great fan” of the Paris Climate Accord, without explaining why. Or saying that “Dodd-Frank is a very negative force, which has developed a very bad name”. How is it negative, and with whom has it developed a bad name?

    Mr. Boitano is the incumbent, and can therefore boast about his accomplishments. I note that in his answers he twice takes credit for “balancing the budget”. According to the County Budget Guide published by the State Controller’s Office, “The basic budget formula is applicable to counties, dependent special districts and other agencies under the supervision and control of the board of supervisors. (GC) §29009 requires the adopted budget to be in balance; therefore, Total Financing Sources shall equal Total Financing Uses.”

    Since Amador County is therefore required to submit a balanced budget, every supervisor can claim the same credit as Mr. Boitano for balancing it. But unless the voter knows about the requirement, a politician can try to make points by taking undeserved credit.

  2. Donald Trump has made it very clear that returning manufacturing to America is a key piece of Making America Great Again. Saying that he is not a great fan of the Paris Climate Accord is just a nuanced way of saying that global warming is a total fraud (which has additionally and perhaps tragically discredited official science). Dodd-Frank has a very bad name and you can simply do your own homework on the internet. The restrictions on bank trading, as just one example, have dried up liquidity in the bond market and put us in a pre crises situation. This affects everyone with a pension or retirement account not just some political phantom called Wall Street.
    I would not minimize Louis Boitano’s accomplishment of a fire break that saved Pine Grove and Amador County during the Butte Fire. Most people know that local governments can’t run budget deficits. Compare our fiscal situation with Calaveras and other nearby countries and the outstanding record of Mr. Boitano and the other supervisors is quite clear. I suspect you are quite capable of doing your homework and finding that out yourself.

  3. Oh, please........we have just about the worst roads in the state. A road worker explained to me recently that the Sups take our road money and spend it on themselves. They are rude to the public and waste time doing ridiculous things that embarrass us.

    Your comment about Trump above is totally absurd. If he had any interest in American manufacturing he'd have his products manufactured in America but not only does he not do that one simple thing, he even imports workers from other countries to exploit as is now well known. Don't say such ridiculous things. He's a total fraud and it's depressing when anyone with half a brain falls for his lies and nonsense. You're making a complete fool of yourself. And, D. Norman - why has you blog been removed?