Letter (Jude Wood): Recreation is the heartbeat of Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Letter (Jude Wood): Recreation is the heartbeat of Tahoe

Whatever your personal beliefs regarding sports and exercise, no one can deny that Tahoe is a mecca for recreation. Half of our population moved here to enjoy skiing, mountain biking, the lake and the trails, and the other half stayed for the very same reason. What is surprising is that for a town built on recreation and with more Olympic Medals per capita than anywhere else in the world, our community recreation center doesn’t reflect the passion for recreation amongst our citizens.

The rec center, located on Rufus Allen Boulevard, is over 40 years old. It is one story, with a single pool, limited space and looks and feels every one of its years. Lauren Thomaselli and her team work incredibly hard to keep it in working order, but they are fighting a losing battle. The pool can no longer hold a steady temperature, the dome roof requires a herculean effort to put on and off; the pipes are decaying and every room and area shows 40 years of wear and tear. And for a town that prides itself on environmental measures, the rec center is wasting energy in every direction.

We need a recreation center that truly reflects the nature of this town. One that is built to the highest environmental standards and that meets the demands of the community. Included in the new plans are a climbing wall, a lap pool and a children’s pool — so two very different users no longer have to compete for the same space; multipurpose rooms that can hold yoga classes and also be used for community meetings; a walking track — vital for older members of the community, and of huge benefit for runners when the sidewalks and trails are covered in snow; and a huge gymnasium that can be used for large community events, tournaments and our thriving pickle ball and indoor soccer leagues. The new building will have something for everyone and be accessible to all.

How could anyone say “no” to such a fantastic development, particularly when paying for it comes from the tourist dollar? Well, there are those who are concerned about the pool not being available while it is rebuilt; those who are upset that they might have to go elsewhere for their weekly class. To them there is a simple answer. If we don’t vote “Yes” on Measure P, then you might lose the rec center for a lot longer than a year. Without sufficient refurbishment and investment, it may close permanently. I, for one, think that missing one year is a lot better than missing forever. Plus, Lauren is working hard to ensure that rec center swimming and classes will be available at other facilities while the main center is offline, and in such a small town the inconvenience will be minimal.

So please, vote YES on Measure P and give our community the rec center that we deserve.

Jude Wood

Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe Executive Director

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Letter (Karan Duron): Bonnie Turnbull for school board

I support Bonnie Turnbull for Lake Tahoe Unified School District school board. In our classrooms we have not kept up with the curriculum. The test scores of Lake Tahoe students are way too low in comparison with those from other areas, e.g., 74 percent of our students at 5th grade level did not meet the achievement goals put forth by California in mathematics. Teaching-to-the-test does not seem to be working.

Is the school board addressing these problems; and what are the challenges to start reversing them? It is imperative that we address these issues, and bring a new methodology to the teaching classroom.

That’s where Bonnie comes in. She has been in the education field for many years and wants to try more diversified approaches: hands-on projects, active demonstrations, more family involvement, more support for the teachers to explore new and innovative teaching ideas. Make the classroom an exploratory “adventure” for the students — not just rote memorizing and taking tests.

Bonnie has the time, energy and focus to follow through on these concepts. Several educators, actually, encouraged her to run because of her background.

Bonnie, definitely, has my vote!

Karan Duron

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Letter (Susan Chandler): Elect Dr. Bob Derlet

Dr. Bob Derlet is the person who will best represent our community in congress.

Bob lives in our district and understands our needs. He is a medical doctor and an environmentalist. He believes in safeguarding social security and Medicare. He will fight for lower healthcare and drug costs. He will fight to keep jobs in the U.S. He respects the planet and believes in climate change. He will protect woman’s rights and support equal pay. He will fight for consumer rights and for a living wage. Most importantly he will listen to his constituents with respect, even if he disagrees with them.

Susan Chandler

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Letter (Jonathon ‘Joby’ Cefalu): ‘Vote what’s best for our community and future’

The City of South Lake Tahoe is at a major turning point in terms of elected officials.

I just received in the mail endorsement from the Tahoe Chamber for City Council. “Vote for candidates that work well together”? A council should be civil, but not necessarily agree; that is the concept of bringing together five elected officials to get the best decision possible. The council should have a working relationship with the city manager, but certainly not have a personal friendship with the city manager. After all, they are the community’s representatives that oversee the duties and success or failure of that position.

We need term limits! No one should serve more than two terms.

Jason Collin brought a lawsuit against the city, regarding community members that wanted the opportunity to vote on the Loop Road. The last thing we need is a person so quick to litigate. Only two solid options ­— John Shearer is a no-nonsense businessman with no agenda other than improving our city; and Joanne Connor should finish her second term.

Vote what’s best for our community and future! Nov. 8 — John Shearer and JoAnn Connor for City Council.

There is not a better candidate for the LTUSD Board than Larry Reilly. He has been an educator for over 30 years. His temperament and knowledge is second to none. He has no agenda other than the improvement of our local education system. His involvement in all aspects of the school system from mentoring students to budgets is invaluable. Pure common sense approach with the personality to stand for what he believes in, rather than what may or may not be popular, is absolutely what we need. Larry is by far the most experienced and prepared candidate on the ballot. Be sure to mark your ballot for the very esteemed Larry Reilly.

Jonathon “Joby” Cefalu

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Jim Porter: Voting recommendations for Nov. 8, part one (opinion)

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I get lots of requests for my voting recommendations column.

Here are state candidate endorsements and state proposition recommendations. Explanation and analysis of proposition recommendations next week. These endorsements are mine, not the law firm’s.


President and Vice President: I hesitate to make a suggestion because you’ve already made up your mind, but here’s a clue — I WON’T be voting for Trump, the misogynist, narcissistic, carnival barker.

U.S. Senator: Kamala Harris.

Congressional – 1st District: Jim Reed over Doug La Malfa.

Congressional – 4th District: Anyone but McClintock; vote Robert Derlet.

State Senate: Ted Gaines, a Republican who works for our District.

State Assembly: Brian Dahle, a Republican, farmer and “normal” person.

State Proposition Recommendations (analyses next week)

Prop. 51 (School Bonds): Soft YES. No if you don’t want more debt for California.

Prop. 52 (Medi-Cal Hospital Fee): YES.

Prop. 53 (Anti-Jerry Brown’s Two Projects Proposition): NO.

Prop. 54 (Changes in the Legislature): Soft NO; right idea, imperfect law.

Prop. 55 (Taxes on the Rich to Fund Education and Healthcare): YES if you like taxing the rich.

Prop. 56 ($2 Per Pack Tax on Cigarettes): YES; don’t be misled by the well-financed tobacco industry’s misleading No campaign.

Prop. 57 (More Flexibility on Criminal Sentencing): YES.

Prop. 58 (English Proficiency/Multi-lingual Education): YES.

Prop. 59 (Political Spending): Soft NO; solid advisory, will not change Citizens United decision.

Prop. 60 (Adult Films, Condoms): NO.

Prop. 61 (State Drug Purchases): NO, good concept, possible unintended consequences.

Prop. 62 (Repeals Death Penalty): YES.

Prop. 63 (Firearms/Ammunition Restrictions): Mixed feelings YES.

Prop. 64 (Legalizing Recreational Marijuana): YES, I suppose. You decide.

Prop. 65 (Carryout Bag Charges): NO.

Prop 66 (Procedures to Fix the Death Penalty): NO. Well intended, unrealistic.

Prop. 67 (Ban on Plastic Bags): YES, absolutely YES.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: , development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.

Letter (John N. Cefalu): New South Lake Tahoe City Councilmembers need ‘intestinal fortitude’

It never ceases to amaze many residents and businesses in this community how the city places a price tag on every activity that the majority of this city council and city manager has selected to raise funds. The latest program, in the name of health and safety, is a visit by an inspector, dressed in a firefighter uniform, to alert a business owner of the need to place signs in their business for the safety of their patrons. A five-minute visit generally results in a bill to that business of $125 or more, sent by a third-party collection entity, out of the area, with a variety of threats for the lack of payment.

As has been expressed by the city manager, funds are necessary to finance the operation of the yet-to-be-approved, $25-30 million new recreation center, promoted by the Lodging Association and paid for by a proposed increase of two-percent increase in the city’s room tax (TOT), is not certain.

On that issue, one should ask, why is a new facility necessary when we have a recreation center that could be remodeled and upgraded for far less than has been proposed? This latest ploy by the city to raise more money borders on extortion and raises questions as to its legality. This community will soon go to the polls to choose two members of city council. It is time to select those that exhibit common sense and logic, and will remain open-minded to issues and have the intestinal fortitude to challenge the behavior of this city administration.

John N. Cefalu

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Letter (Jason Drew): Supporting Jason Collin for South Lake Tahoe City Council

This November the right choice for South Lake Tahoe is Jason Collin.

Jason is a thoughtful, collaborative and engaging leader with a responsible and positive vision for our community. It has been my pleasure to witness his leadership skills first-hand working on volunteer boards and local events together.

Jason is a top-notch individual whose common sense, respectful communication style and energy are desperately needed on the city council.

Jason Drew

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Letter (Douglas Williams): Vote for Measure P

Why a vote for Measure P is actually a vote for road repairs, snow removal and affordable housing …

There are many important issues concerning the nation, California and South Lake on the Nov. 8 ballot. Not only will we decide on who the next president is, but we’ll also be voting in two city officials, who some could argue will actually have a greater impact on our daily lives than the nation’s leader.

Another vote that will have a huge impact on our community is Measure P. Measure P is seeking to increase the tourist occupancy tax in the City of South Lake by 2 percent, which in turn will bring in an extra $2 million in revenue each year that will be 100-percent solely tied to recreational initiatives. A win-win for our local community ­— without the community paying for it.

The first benefit to that community will be the redevelopment of the Recreation Center on Rufus Allen Boulevard – turning it from a one-level, 40-year-old, decaying monster into a two-level, state-of-the-art community facility. Once that is complete, beaches, bike paths and parks will also get to benefit from the extra tourist dollars.

Now $2 million dollars a year is a lot of money, and reading this I know that some of you are thinking that the money would be better spent on fixing the potholes, putting in new bike paths or building affordable housing. And indirectly, by voting Yes on Measure P, you will be putting more money toward those other vital projects because the recreation center, and all the other city-managed recreation, cost the General Fund millions of dollars each year; and those costs are only going to go up. Due to its age the swimming pool can’t hold a consistent temperature, the dome roof is falling apart and every week there is a new maintenance issue to contend with. If Measure P fails, rather than $2 million of tourist dollars to put towards the building, the city will have to take funding from other projects and initiatives, and that way no one wins.

And for those concerned that a 2-percent TOT increase will discourage tourists, do not worry. The Lodging Association is 100-percent behind the increase; and as astute businessmen and women, they would not support an increase that would hurt their business. Tahoe will still have a lower TOT than many other California destinations; including Napa, San Diego and San Francisco; and the more recreational opportunities we can offer our tourists, the more they will want to come.

Measure P will build the facility that our community deserves, without costing the citizens a dime; and instead the city can put our taxes to work on other essential projects.

Douglas Williams

Lake Tahoe Lodging Association

Letter (Paul Andrew): Tahoe should enforce littering fines

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to the Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown area, which like Tahoe attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Unlike Tahoe, we found that every shopping center, street, path and public area wasn’t littered with paper, cans, bottles, Starbucks cups and cigarettes.

Besides seeing more trash dispensers, we also noticed numerous signs stating “Littering is illegal.” I asked a few locals about this, and was told that a $200 fine for littering was strictly enforced.

Though enforcing these fines might be challenging and costly, if the results were a cleaner Tahoe we might attract a better quality clientele who had more respect for our beautiful area.

Paul Andrew

Zephyr Cover, Nev.

Karen Raucher: Emerald Fire evacuee reflects on 60 years in Spring Creek (opinion)

At 2:32 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 14 my husband Bob and I awoke to loud, booming knocking. Before we could even get out of bed we could see the glow of fire out the window and I found myself telling my husband — “I’ll get the door, you call 911 and tell them there is a fire.” Of course, it was the sheriff knocking on the door telling us there was a fire. We never heard what he told us, the winds were roaring so loudly, but we got the drift and shouted back — “We got it, we’re out of here!”

As it was our fifth or sixth fire evacuation, we went into autopilot: Bob grabbed the car keys, phones and computers, while I grabbed coats, shoes and medicine;and we were out of our cabin at the top of Spring Creek in under five minutes. By the time we reached 89 we realized we were not running for our lives and stopped to take a picture; knowing in our hearts that we may never pass this way again.


I arrived at Spring Creek at the ripe old age of 6 weeks in early June of 1956. My mother and father, Kay and Bill Shafer, brought me and my two sisters to Spring Creek to help her parents, Ira and Ada Thatcher, build a cabin where I would spend all my summers at the Spring Creek Forest Service Tract.

The forest of my childhood was dominated by an incredible mix of old-growth crags; ancient white pine, fir and cedars up to 5 feet across provided special places with fairy rings and pine cones bigger than your baby cousin! The old masters provided dry places to shelter in a summer thunderstorm and dry wood for a fire even on the wettest days. My sisters and I were taught that if we ever got lost to go to the closet large tree and hug it — we would be safe and quickly found. There were enough old-growth trees that were somehow deemed uncommercial, and therefore left by the loggers to dominate the forest. It was a magical place!

As the years passed, the forest became darker and harder to navigate. Small, white spruce stands grew into impenetrable thickets, and eventually blew down, creating larger and larger masses of dry tinder waiting to burn. During the same time, the remaining old giants became targets of lightening, and we lost them one by one.

My love for the Tahoe forest lead me to the Yale School of Forestry, where I learned a great deal more about the science of forest management, silviculture, and pushed to develop policies that would protect our forests from unmindful logging, mining and grazing. I am proud of my contributions to the designation of Desolation as a Wilderness area, as well as my actions to increase forest planning. But I didn’t do enough and the Tahoe forests continued to decline.

As a child I often heard my grandfather, who grew up in a logging camp, curse under his breath at the Forest Service officials who prevented him from taking down any tree — living or dead. He understood that the Forest Service’s hands-off policy was a detriment to the health of a forest that had already been irreparably damaged.

And logging in the region had already drastically impacted the forest. As one journalist in 1900 reported: “inundation of nearly the entire original forest so far back as it has had a commercial value, from the shoreline of the lake back for 10 or 15 miles.” Although the American people responded by creating the Forest Service, we did not have either the scientific understanding nor the political will to move away from economic decisions (including adequately funding the Forest Service) in order to focus on the forest health rather than the value of the trees.


One-hundred-and-sixteen years after the old-growth forest was reported “logged out,” it seems we are still trying to figure out how to see the forest for the trees. One lesson learned seems to be that leaving the forest alone to heal will take too long for us humans, so we have decided to actively manage today’s forest.

Another lesson, seems to me, is that we as human beings can impact larger ecosystems than we imagine. Chris Anthony, CAL FIRE’s brilliant Emerald Fire Incident Chief (thank you!) spoke to us evacuees at the incident meeting about how climate changes are already affecting the Tahoe ecosystem through significant changes in snow amounts and timing.

My grandfather Ira’s “greatest” generation could not imagine that we could remove enough trees to damage a forest. They believed, without question, that the forest was large enough to support the economy without long-term consequence to the forest. In hindsight this unquestioned economic operating belief was incorrect, and the Tahoe Basin forest is still recovering from it 116 years later

About 6:15 a.m. on Oct. 14 I could hear my grandmother up in heaven saying, “Ira, Ira, do something — the forest is burning!” Whether or not he did, the winds died down and heavy misty clouds settled on the mountain. The miracle we needed to keep Spring Creek from burning happened — with support from dozens of firefighters, sheriff deputies, Forest Service, Caltrans, Red Cross and Tahoe citizens who worked incredibly hard during the fire, and every day, to create and protect the miracle we call Tahoe. Your extra generosity over the last couple of days is deeply appreciated!

Karen Raucher is a Lake Tahoe-area local and Emerald Fire evacuee.