Letter: ‘There are none so deaf as those that will not hear’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Letter: ‘There are none so deaf as those that will not hear’

South Lake Tahoe's city government is not representative because city council and management is cock sure that they are right on most everything. They do not take opposing views into consideration. They dismiss such opinions as uninformed or just clearly wrong. They stonewall. They do not allow any competing ideas. For example, I have brought forward the idea that the tattered rec center should be converted to a city hall. But the council will not discuss the idea. They are silent. The reason is clear. They are fixated on recreation. They believe recreation will make the city a rec mecca. Their belief borders on religion, absolute faith. The city is intolerant, will not allow a free market of ideas. Such behavior is rooted in hubris, excessive pride which leads to arrogance; they are infallible. That leaves the governed with a sinking feeling that there is creeping tyranny. That the ideas advocated by citizens do not count. That we, the people, are only fit to be led. It has been said many times, "There are none so deaf as those that will not hear." Bill Crawford South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

For Nevada voters, ‘none’ is 2nd to Harry Reid

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Harry Reid faces one wild-card factor in November’s election: None of the above. Nearly 11 percent of voters in Nevada’s Democratic primary last week chose “none” over Reid, reflecting a sense of frustration within his own party over the Senate majority leader’s performance. The 12,335 Democrats who voted for “none of these candidates” – a ballot option on statewide races since 1976 – may still be angry at Reid in November. Moderate Republicans and independents also could throw their support for the “none” vote, possibly hurting Reid in a tight race with conservative tea party-backed candidate Sharron Angle. Reid has faced a tight election before in which the “none” vote played a factor. In 1998, he squeaked out a 428-vote victory over then Republican Rep. John Ensign; “none” received 8,125 votes, or 2 percent of the total ballots. On Tuesday, Reid, who is seeking a fifth term, got 87,374 votes, or 75 percent, in a primary with 30 percent voter turnout. He had three unknown challengers, and all lost to “none.” Reid’s campaign downplayed the “none” votes. “We are confident Sen. Reid will receive the necessary support from Nevadans needed to win re-election in November,” the campaign said in a statement. The “none” option is particularly popular this election year with voters frustrated by partisan bickering and the status quo. Even in the crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary, “none” fared better than seven of the 11 candidates beat by Angle, a former state assemblywoman endorsed by tea party groups. Angle received 70,422 votes, or 40 percent. “None” had 3,090, or 1.8 percent. “It’s something that shouldn’t be ignored by the Reid people,” said Eric Herzik, political scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Anytime you’re getting double digits ‘none of the above,’ it shows some sort of discontent.” So what are voters mad about? The possibilities are many: Politics in general, health care reform or even Nevada’s sour economy. “People are out of work. They are losing their homes. So they are going to vote against anything they think is the establishment,” said state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, a 38-year veteran who called this election season the “most vicious political campaigning that I have ever observed.” Though “none of these candidates” didn’t sway any outcomes in Tuesday’s primary, it has in the past. Historically, “none” has been especially popular in races where choices are few or voters know little about candidates. In Tuesday’s two-way Republican primary for state controller, “none” received 25 percent, just nine votes shy of the second-place finisher. Under state law, “none of these candidates” is a nonbinding option available only in statewide races. Even if it gets the most votes, it doesn’t win or nullify the election. The candidate who gets the most votes is the winner. So why even vote for “none”? “It’s a form of registering your opinion. A non-decision is still a decision,” Herzik said. Reid didn’t have any primary opposition in his last two re-elections and therefore wasn’t on the primary ballot to receive “none” votes then.

SAUNDERS: Supreme court’s scary power grab

The U.S. Supreme Court effectively ordered California on Monday to release 33,000 inmates over two years from an in-state prison population that numbers about 143,000. Kent Scheidegger of the tough-on-crime Criminal Justice Legal Foundation blogged that Californians shouldn’t “bother investing much in a car. It will be open season on cars, given that car thieves (nonviolent offenders) will never go to prison no matter how many times they are caught.” The 5-4 Plata decision upheld a federal three-judge panel that in 2009 found that overcrowding in California prisons is “criminogenic” – likely to produce criminals – and ordered state prisons to run at 137.5 percent of design capacity. The state’s prisons are designed to hold 80,000 inmates. (Be it noted, 100 percent capacity means one inmate per cell.) Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy cited ugly stories of inmates waiting months for needed medical and mental-health treatment – a violation of Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. And: “As many as 54 prisoners may share a single toilet.” Kennedy argued, “Prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons.” Corrections head Matthew Cate chided the Big Bench for ignoring the many improvements in the system over the past five years. For example, the state has removed some 13,000 out of 20,000 nontraditional or “bad beds” – think large rooms stuffed with bunk beds to warehouse unprocessed inmates. (I don’t think Kennedy liked those beds – he included two photos of them with his opinion.) In his dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito noted that the three-judge panel relied on old statistics and ignored more current (and favorable) data, such as the huge drop in “likely preventable deaths” from 18 in 2006 to 3 in 2007. The worst part: Kennedy endorsed the three judges’ finding that there was “substantial evidence that prison populations can be reduced in a manner that does not increase crime to a significant degree” and that reducing overcrowding “could even improve public safety.” Yes, Virginia, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court thinks Californians might be safer if it cuts the prison population by a quarter. As Alito argued, his colleagues ignore history. When federal courts made Philadelphia release thousands of inmates in the 1990s, police re-arrested thousands over 18 months, resulting in 1,113 assault charges, 90 rape charges and 79 murder charges. Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision “the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” He likened the decision to the granting of 46,000 criminal appeals. Scalia even wondered if Kennedy suggested a five-year time frame to achieve “a marginal reduction in the inevitable murders, robberies and rapes” likely to be committed by released convicts. Gov. Jerry Brown correctly warned that the Big Bench might issue this ruling as he has tried to sell his plan to transfer some 37,000 state inmates to local jurisdictions. In turn, Kennedy wrote that Brown’s proposed transfers – which the Legislature has yet to ratify – support the three judges’ view that they can free thousands of inmates without “undue negative effect on public safety.” The ink’s barely dry and already they’re sharing the credit in preparation for the cruel awakening that will prod them to spread the blame. E-mail Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BlueGo route changes affect lake to valley riders

I would like to respond to an article in the Oct. 6 issue by Dylan Silver. His story indicated that the BlueGo changes were well received by riders. He must not have sought the opinions of the riders most affected by the changes. I speak of the riders who travel up to the lake from the valley areas on the 20X and 21X routes. Over the last several months, we as riders have known of the changes coming and were asked for our input to help BlueGo understand the needs of the riders on these routes. A number of the riders submitted ideas to BlueGo, including myself. Then when the plan rolled out, it turns out none of the opinions we had mattered. The most upsetting change was the elimination of the scheduled time that had the most riders. For all of the daily users the 4:30 p.m. run from the lake to Carson City fit the work schedules of 90 percent of the riders. Now that there is no 4:30 p.m. run we all have had to no longer ride or change our work schedules to match the times it does run. If you work 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and want to go to Carson City you have to wait one hour and 20 minutes to get the 5:50 p.m. run. We, the riders, understand the need to make changes to keep the business running, but for them to ask for input and then to seemingly ignore it was a slap in the face. Many of the drivers are not happy with the changes either. I ask of you one thing – ride the 21X or the 20X and ask the riders what they think about the changes. Andrew Baker Carson City

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Apology for community reaction

I offer an apology to Ms. Toner of Las Vegas. I can assure her that most of us are truly interested in what our visitors experience and want the experience to be great. While it may be of little consolation to her, I point out that our community has a small number of people whose lives have not added up to much, so until the advent of the internet they had no one that would listen to them. They now hide behind blog names and say whatever they want, mostly untrue but it somehow makes them feel important. I am a local that has tried to contribute to my community and I have been accused of everything from being a slum landlord, to practicing law without a license, none of which are true. But like Ms. Toner I can’t address my accusers or sue them for libel or slander, because they cowardly hide behind those blog names. The people I talk to understand that these unnamed attack bloggers, are for the most part, fools, and we have not forgotten that anyone can say anything online, unlike real journalism there is no accountability. You think they called you names wait till they read this letter, the difference is I sign my name to my opinions and I invite public debate. In my opinion that’s how we learn and grow. On your next trip to our fair city I hope your experience will be better. Ted Long South Lake Tahoe

Debra J. Saunders: And then there were none

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell announced Thursday that he is dropping out of the California GOP gubernatorial primary and instead will run against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Last year, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom bowed out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, leaving former governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown as the only Democrat in the race – and he has yet to announce that he is running. Come to think of it, former Lt. Gov. John Garamendi also dropped out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary to run for (and win) Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s vacated seat. The governor’s race is starting to look like an Agatha Christie story, where all the characters get bumped off one by one. Call it: “And Then There Were None.” Campbell knows that some supporters are disappointed that he won’t remain in the governor’s race. Some had this fantasy that he would best the two moneybags in the race, much as Gray Davis beat Democrat richies Al Checchi and Jane Harman in 1998. Sorry, Campbell explained, he was “not within hailing distance” of winning because he raised only about $1 million last year. By contrast, the two gazillionaires each tossed $19 million into their campaign coffers as if it were tip money. As Democratic political guru Darry Sragow noted, people forget “in the telling of the story, Gray did have enough money to make his presence felt.” Campbell wasn’t in Davis’ fundraising league. There is also a nostalgia element to the switch. In 1992, Campbell lost the GOP primary to Bruce Herschensohn, who then lost the general election to Boxer. According to conventional lore, if the more moderate Campbell had won the primary, Boxer never would have won her Senate seat. The lore could be wrong. Campbell was such a non-factor when he challenged Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2000 – she trounced him 56 percent to 37 percent – that even political people tend to forget his walk-on role in that race. What does Campbell’s switch mean for voters? Democrats remain stuck with Jerry Brown. Sragow claims that voters want “comfort food” candidates and Brown is experienced. Others see the return of the decades-ago hippie governor as a bad LSD flashback. Suffice it to say that Brown is an opposition researcher’s dream. As Oakland mayor, he delayed the retrofit of the Bay Bridge, overused eminent domain to evict good businesses and hired City Administrator Deborah Edgerly, who, according to a city audit, had a penchant for “inappropriately hiring close relatives in lieu of well-qualified individuals.” Public employee unions gave Brown millions last year. What do they expect in return? Republicans have a strong candidate in GOP front-runner, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Given the electorate’s clear exasperation with the big-spending Legislature and rejection of last year’s tax-raising ballot measures, voters may well be looking for a no-nonsense executive to trim – no, hack at – the state budget, with its $20.7 billion shortfall. And, in a state desperate for good jobs, she knows what the private sector needs. But there’s also the Arnold Factor, which could undercut that edge: California voters may be wary of electing another Republican political novice who makes big promises to cut government spending. As state insurance commissioner, rival Steve Poizner does have Sacramento experience. GOP strategist Allan Hoffenblum noted, “I always prefer two-candidate races” to threesomes. A two-way race helps Poizner’s strategy to run as “the real conservative” in the race. Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen seized the moment to paint “Tom and Steve” as virtual twins, who talk to reporters, answer tough questions and (unlike Whitman to date) “show up for debates.” But the last PPIC poll showed Poizner, despite his stint as insurance commish, with 8 percent of the primary vote. If his poll numbers don’t pick up, he’ll be debating himself. The other Republican thrilled with Campbell’s jump into the Senate race is Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who also had been a poor kid in a GOP primary overflowing with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s money. Campbell believes he can fare better in the Senate race, as his campaign consultant conducted a poll – an inside job, and hence suspect – showing Campbell leading the field at 31 points to Fiorina at 15 and DeVore at 12. Both Sragow and Hoffenblum see the move as good for Campbell. Hoffenblum, however, worries “that the two Silicon Valley candidates could split the vote and give it to” the perhaps too-conservative DeVore. Fiorina has to be frosted. She laid the groundwork early. She lined up establishment support in Washington. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was treating her as if she had won the nomination. And here comes Campbell late to the party with former Secretary of State George Shultz and his endorsement on his arm. Fiorina spokesman Julie Soderlund dismissed Campbell’s switcheroo as testament to his “quixotic personal ambition and the false premise that he will be acceptable to … primary voters.” When Campbell lost to DiFi, he raised a measly $4 mil to her $10 mil. He could not raise money from the more conservative GOP base. There’s “a huge difference this time,” Campbell told me. Feinstein “was assumed to be unbeatable.” In 2010, with voter discontent bubbling even in blue Massachusetts, this could be a bad year for Boxer. E-mail the Tribune’s Wednesday columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com.

Ken Gerrard on pace to finish Boston Marathon

Ken Gerrard of South Lake Is on pace to finish his first Boston Marathon today. The 52-year-old Gerrard has completed 30 kilometers of the race in 2 hours, 40 minutes and 27 seconds. Given his pace, he’s projected to finish the 113th running of the event in 3:46:11.

Sierra snowpack below average after dry month

Almost every year since 1987, Chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey Frank Gehrke has recorded a mid-winter lull during which fewer storms hit the Sierra Nevada. And 2013 was no exception. The water content at Phillips Station near Echo Summit was 12.7 inches Tuesday, or 66 percent of the long-term average. When Gehrke conducted the year’s first survey at the start of the month, water content was at 101 percent of average. Statewide, the snowpack water content was 93 percent of average for the date and 55 percent of the April 1 measurement –typically the snowpack’s peak. “Unfortunately as we foresaw, we had very little storm activity in January. The storage in the reservoirs is the bright spot, but that’s not to say the snowpack can’t come back. It’s just not as optimistic as before,” Gehrke said. Gehrke said the Northern Sierra Nevada typically experience a mid-winter lull in storm activity that for the past few years has come in January. High-pressure centers build up just off the coast and then act as a barrier that prevents winter storms from moving inland toward California. Instead, the storms get rerouted toward the Pacific Northwest or Alaska. Those systems can even affect the Midwest or the East Coast if they detour to the north. “The duration of the lull is the difference between a good water year and a so-so water year. We typically get water during discrete, intense events. We have storms that come through and dump a bunch of snow,” Gehrke said. SNOTEL data collected over the last decade from the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows that snowpack water content tends to flatline for about two to six weeks in January or early February before rising gradually through March or the start of April. While the length and severity of the lull varies, each year since 2004 saw a period of little or no snow. Meteorologists can’t predict how long the high-pressure centers will blockade the coast, nor do they know exactly why they form during the winter, Gehrke said. It’s probably linked to long-term ocean patterns like the ones that cause El Nino and La Nina, but there isn’t enough data yet to piece together the details, he said. None of those massive winter storms that skiers and riders dream about have moved through the region recently. Unless the South Shore gets what Gehrke calls a “miracle March” or another series of powerful storms, snowpack water content will be about what it was last spring, he said. The forecast isn’t entirely negative though. Gehrke said those high-pressure centers seem to be dissipating and important water-storage reservoirs are above average thanks to precipitation in November and December. Lake Oroville is at 113 percent of average for the date and Lake Shasta is at 111 percent of average, according to a Department of Water Resources press release. The DWR estimates that it will deliver 40 percent of the requested water this year to supply 25 million individuals and almost 1 million acres of irrigated farmland. The snowpack normally provides about one third of the water for California. “Those early-season storms also erased the deficit in our reservoir storage, but relatively dry weather this month is once again a reminder that the weather is unpredictable and we must always practice conservation,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said in the release.

Reader Poll Results: What do you think about California’s newly approved right-to-die measure?

Please note: Poll results are not scientific and are for entertainment purposes only. What do you think about California's newly approved right-to-die measure? 66.01 percent (637 votes): I support it. 13.47 percent (130 votes): I support it, but only under specific circumstances. 11.71 percent (113 votes): I'm not sure. 8.81 percent (85 votes): I'm against it.