Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor - week of March 23

Sobel was spot on

Marc Sobel was pretty much spot on with his assessment of the failure of Measure L in his March 16 guest commentary in the Star. Measure L didn’t fail because of its merits, but from a distrust of government and in this case Madera County.

Rural residents are upset by the $150 yearly illegal “fire tax” that Jerry Brown passed which he calls a “fee” so he could avoid having citizens exercise their voting power. None of these funds are allowed to be used directly for fighting fires and can we really trust the state to spend it wisely?

We are also dumbfounded by Measure T, passed in 2006, a half cent sales tax which promised extra lanes going up Deadwood and other highway improvements all the way down to rocky cut. Another promise that wasn’t fulfilled to our mountain area.

The Measure T sales tax (our portion) should be redirected to the safety budget, since we have seen few benefits and the yearly fire tax also directed to fire/safety. Ideally this could be the way to go, but unfortunately we don’t live in a practical state.

The solutions, provided by Mr. Sobel, were completely doable if our representatives believed in priorities. How we justify $100 billion for a high speed rail, that we do not need, then we don’t provide adequate fire/safety is mind-boggling.

We should be able to hold our county representatives responsible enough to provide safety to all of our citizens and to consider this its first priority.

Who we need to represent this county is someone with practical sense that knows priorities. Marc Sobel, you have my vote.

Glenn Baxter. Ahwahnee

Lost opportunity

The front page of last week’s Sierra Star (March 16) contained two interesting stories. The first story related how Measure L, which would have raised the sales tax by one penny, and provided increased fire and law enforcement protection. The sales tax concept meant that residents and visitors paid.

The second story tells about the boom that the tree cutting has brought to the area, resulting in an increase of about $500,000 per month added to the economy. That is a lot of sales tax (and bed tax). The defeat of Measure L was an opportunity lost.

Pat Johnson, Bass Lake

Measure L

This is to all the people that voted against Measure L. I hope in the case of an emergency you get a quick response to your dilemma.

We need more fire and police protection up here in the foothills. This measure would have helped.

Mike Norris, Oakhurst

Your vote matters

In 2018 Madera County voters will elect new officials into local office. With the failure of Measure L, I hope voters will not soon forget those elected officials that were in support of this failed measure and the amount of taxpayer money that was spent (wasted).

Madera County has the second lowest per capita income (per household) in California. Had this measure passed, Madera County would have had one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.

In my humble opinion this is an indication that our current elected officials may not have the best interest at heart for Madera County residents. The people we send into office are not placed there to serve their best interests or their deep pocket supporters’ best interests but rather, the needs of the entire county as best they can.

They should be reminded that their vote or decision on certain matters may not always coincide with their personal opinion or beliefs. This is the basis of a democracy ... it seems at times some of our current elected officials forget that. Be sure that you’re informed and always remember that your vote matters.

Scott Runtzel, Bass Lake

Stop wasting money before it’s too late

Day after day crawling at a snail’s pace down crowded state Route 99. Years of worrying about wells drying up. Driving on pothole-bumpy roads.

Hearing these same concerns from the people I represent, I have come to the obvious conclusion that the State of California is wasting money on high speed rail.

I have been a consistent opponent of the budget busting rail project since its inception and I am now calling on Governor Brown to have the common sense and courage to take the already dead high speed rail off of life support - Put it out of our misery.

More than $10 billion has been borrowed by California for high speed rail, against the state’s 35 years of future revenues expected from its cap-and-trade tax program. However, the revenue from those sales has collapsed and the state is looting other accounts, such as roads.

The high speed rail project has taken $1.5 million from Madera County roads this year. With cap-and-trade dollars dwindling, the certainty of no funding from the federal government and not a single dollar of private investment, high speed rail has no revenue stream.

High speed rail authority has been granted a $1.6 billion dollar bond under Proposition 1A. It is inevitable that a lawsuit will be filed for an injunction.

This Titanic has sunk and there is no sense in continuing to spend money for it to sail. Unfortunately, the high speed rail anchor is wrapped around California’s neck and its dragging us down.

The problems created for landowners who are in the beleaguered train’s path will linger on. And with regard to eminent domain actions used to acquire the land, in addition to properties shown on HSR mapping - People will have problems selling land, refinancing, or receiving loans on parcels that have been shown as in the train’s path.

What will happen to the portions of track that have already been built? It is likely that the currently constructed infrastructure will be absorbed into the Amtrak system - a very expensive addition.

We could have built several dams and thousands of groundwater recharge facilities for what we have sunk into high speed rail.

David Rogers, Madera County District 2 Supervisor

Thank you from Afghanistan

Note: This is an excerpt from a letter handwritten by Captain Bryson Shipman, serving in Afghanistan, as a thank you to Raymond Knowles Elementary School. See Community View photo on page 8B for details.

I wanted to take the time to thank everyone at the Raymond Knowles Elementary School for all the support given to my soldiers here in Afghanistan. I specifically want to thank Erika Hafkey, who was responsible for the entire project.

I wish I could begin to express how appreciative my soldiers were to receive all the items. We have been here executing our mission since May 2016, and anything reminding us of home is always welcome. Knowing that there are people back home supporting our efforts helps us continue forward, especially during the tough time.

Once again, thank you for everything. We loved every bit of what you all sent.