I today received this email from Ric Ryan, the Walking Man of Murphys who donates money to surgically repair the faces of wounded military veterans every time someone waves at him as he walks along Highway 4:
Just a short message to let you know CBS called me last night and will be here tomorrow and they are meeting me at the Tower Gas Station at 8 am on the 1st of May to film my walking and the town of Murphys.
The reason they are doing this film is to let more people know about OPERATION MEND and how they help our VETERANS.
Thank you Ric USMC 64-68
Those of you who live along Highway 4 in Calaveras County are already familiar with Ric Ryan, the walking man of Murphys. He is both building his own health by long walks along Highway 4 AND donating to help other veterans everytime someone waves at him during those walks. The money goes to Operation Mend, which does plastic surgery on the faces of veterans who were disfigured by IED attacks in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ric sent me an email on Saturday updating his progress with this project. Here it is:
Just a short note to let you all know that I now have 5007 miles walked and for Operation Mend I received $1800.00 in Donations for the troops while on my walk today. I am beside myself in joy
God Bless this GREAT COUNTRY WE LIVE IN
Ric USMC 64-68
Today I was astonished to read item 22 on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors agenda for this coming Tuesday (April 23.) Said item indicated the board will be asked to approve an agreement with the state which would result in spending $8.1 billion over five years on “specialty mental health services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries of Calaveras County.”
So I did some math. That translates into about $1.6 billion a year. Assuming that all 45,000 of us living up here are mentally ill, then that would be more than $35,000 a year in mental health services for every man, woman and child in Calaveras. I left a phone message for Calaveras Health Services Agency Director Colleen Tracy, suggesting that it would probably solve most of our mental health problems to just send us all checks directly.
Tracy called back to explain the $8.1 billion. Turns out that is the total amount of federal money expected to flow statewide in California for such mental health services in the five years from now to 2018. State officials realized they didn’t know exactly how the money would get divvied up among the state’s 58 counties, so they asked every county to sign a contract for up to the full $8.1 billion. Tracy said the actual amount Calaveras will get over the five years is more like $6 million. That’s only about $1.2 million a year, or about $27 per year per county resident. So the good news is that Calaveras doesn’t need $8.1 billion in mental health services. The bad news is that we do have our share of mental health problems, and probably need more than the $6 million.
The late Pat Derby, the founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, will be honored Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.
Derby, who died in February, was a one-time movie and television animal trainer (she worked with Lassie and Flipper) who in later life became an animal advocate. She spent much of her time in recent years in San Andreas caring for a number of former zoo and performing animals at the PAWS Ark 2000 Sanctuary on Pool Station Road. One of her charges was Ruby, an elephant who came to Ark 2000 in 2007 from the Los Angeles Zoo.
Derby was one of the nation’s most prominent animal rights advocates. There will probably be quite a crowd in the room when the Los Angeles City Council adjourns its meeting in her honor sometime after11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
The meeting will be at 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, Room 340
A Ukiah resident named James D. Smith on Friday cleared the necessary hurdles to begin circulating a ballot initiative that would heavily tax timber harvests and use the resulting funds to create a massive new state government agency to manage forests. The California Secretary of State announced Friday that Smith and his allies will have to gather 504,760 signatures to get it on the ballot. He has until Sept. 10. If placed on the ballot and approved, the measure would impose a 33 percent tax on the profits from logging on public lands and an 8 percent tax on harvests from private lands. Smith claims his measure would create more than 100,000 private industry jobs and 2,000 government jobs, as well as restoring California’s forests over the next 150 years to a condition as good or better than existed before the 1849 Gold Rush. Smith also touts the measure as a way to comply with United Nations guidelines on sustainability. At least up here in Calaveras County, that mention of the United Nations seems likely to dampen the enthusiasm of many voters for the measure.
For more information, go to the Secretary of State page that lists measures cleared for circulation: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/cleared-for-circulation.htm
Assemblywoman Susan Eggman’s spot bill — AB 1319 — is no longer a spot bill. And it does have a direct relationship to the text originally included. The bill deals with diseased livestock. It removes the requirement that the state compensate the owner of brucellosis-infected cattle when those cattle are ordered slaughtered by state officials to prevent spread of the disease. The amendment happened on Monday.
Here’s the link: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_1301-1350/ab_1319_bill_20130318_amended_asm_v98.htm
State Senator Tom Berryhill’s AB 583, which would make California fishing licenses good for a year from the date of puchase (versus the present calendar-year-only licenses) has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and will have a hearing April 23.
Also moving to committee is a spot bill by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. The spot bill, essentially an empty place holder, makes only non-substantive changes to a section of the Food and Agriculture Code that regulates diseased animals, particularly who is allowed to remove animals from slaughterhouse pens. Even though there’s nothing in the bill yet, it has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture. So the question is, what will this bill actually end up doing?
Eggman is the Agriculture Committee chair. Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto, is the vice chair. They are San Joaquin County’s two representatives in the Assembly.
To see the bills introduced this year by your elected representative, go to leginfo.ca.gov, click on “bill information,” and do a search using your legislator’s name.
Once you find a particular bill that you want to track, you can also subscribe for automatic email notifications every time the bill is modified or acted on.
There must be a reason that six different people have held the top land use planning job in Calaveras County over the last seven years. I suspect it is because those officials get inconsistent, if not impossibly contradictory direction from the county’s elected leaders. One of the greatest examples is the long-overdue effort to update the General Plan. That effort has been underway since 2007. Pretty much everyone on the Board of Supervisors in that time has said they want the thing done promptly, since the lack of a legally-defensible and adequate General Plan makes it hard to approve much-desired development projects. But county officials over the years have opposed many of the specific steps and policies that could get the work done, such as creating a habitat conservation plan that could make a General Plan much more workable, efficient, and easy to use for developers. Similarly, they send inconsistent signals on whether they intend to pay for the needed work to get the General Plan done. It happened again this week, when Planning Director Rebecca Willis made what would have appeared to be a fairly routine request to transfer a little more than $10,000 from one General Plan-related contract to another. Planners had been frugal and didn’t spend all of the money on the previous contract. And when they signed a new contract, they anticipated having those dollars available. Going to the Board of Supervisors was required because the old contract had expired. But before the board could vote, several people in the audience at Tuesday’s meeting got up and suggested that transferring the money would support a United Nations effort to subvert local governments. Supervisor Darren Spellman’s motion to transfer the money died for lack of a second. That leaves Willis with work to do and a contract to pay and not enough dollars to pay it. I wondered at the time at her cheerful facade given the board’s obvious lack of support. To be fair, the board did make a difficult vote unanimously in her favor later in the day when it supported her recommendation to deny without prejudice the proposed 580-unit Sawmill Lake residential development in Copperopolis.
There has been substantial turnover on the Board of Supervisors over the last seven years. Except for Merita Callaway, not one person is left from the board that was here when the General Plan update process started. But the signs are that the paralysis will continue: The same people who say they want to make Calaveras County an easy place to do business somehow balk at taking all the steps needed to achieve that goal.
I got a call today from Joan, my former wife, telling me that Monday night’s homicide happened in the duplex we shared for 10 years. I looked at the photo online and sure enough there it is, the pale blue duplex where we lived, celebrated meals and birthdays together, entertained friends. I am grateful for those years at 5448 Holiday Drive in Stockton. When we rented the place it belonged to the late Sal Zendejas, a beloved high school teacher and, at times, president of the Stockton Teachers Association. Joan and I were young professionals starting out. Sal kept our rent low. We did repairs, built a deck, painted the cabinets. Now Joan and I have gone separate ways, but we each own our own home. The launch we got in life was in part thanks to the kind landlord and low-cost living we enjoyed in those years. Zendejas died in a car crash in 2008. When I drove by my former home a few days ago, it appeared to be in disrepair, with leaves still covering the yard and a parked vehicle months after they came off the trees. Then I learned that a young man named Alexander Centeno was gunned down there just before midnight Monday. I don’t know anything about Centeno and his story, except that the same home that launched me into a wider, more fulfilling life was where his life ended.
A story about this killing is posted here: http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130219/A_NEWS/130219875