Candidate Tuolumne County District 3 Supervisor
 

The Fine Print

Welcome to The Fine Print, where I delve into details about my position on a range of issues. As I talk to people in the community, I realize we share many core values and agree on a majority of issues. When we do not agree, there are open minds and a willingness to have a healthy debate and work towards answers together. Having been born and raised in District 3, I have a solid grasp of the issues at hand and have several solutions to offer. However I am really encouraged to hear the great ideas you offer and am excited to work with the citizens of District 3.

Some solution proposals may change over time as I listen to solutions offered by you, the people. Some new issues may emerge as well. Please check back occasionally for the latest. This information was updated November 1, 2018.

 

Marijuana Delivery

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control is attempting to make an administrative law change to allow Marijuana Deliveries to cities and counties without our vote and in contradiction to Proposition 64. Even the City of Sonora, which is considering a Cannabis Dispensary, is opposed. The Bureau is accepting comments until Nov 5th. If you are interested in stopping this action, please send the below email (or something similar) right now.

    To: BCC.comments@dca.ca.gov
    Subject: Do Not Allow Marijuana Delivery

    I oppose the proposed changes to allow delivery of marijuana to cities and counties without their consent as outlined in the proposed changes to CCR Title 16, Div 42. Bureau of Cannabis Control, Section 5416. Delivery to a Physical Address.

    The proposed changes will put vehicles loaded with marijuana and cash on our roadways which will lead to more crime, allow deliveries to homes next door to schools, facilitate more access by our youth to marijuana and remove tax dollars from the local jurisdictions.

    The proposed changes completely violates what I understood Proposition 64 to allow: that is for each local city and county to make their own decisions about allowing or banning commercial marijuana. This in effect forces commercial marijuana on all jurisdictions. It also takes away tax dollars and leaves the local jurisdictions with the burden of dealing with the consequences of the impact of marijuana on the local community.

References

[1] https://www.bcc.ca.gov/law_regs/cannabis_text.pdf (see page 73)

[2] https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/485837/mother-lode-jurisdictions-leery-of-proposed-cannabis-delivery-regulations.html

[3] https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6644390-151/state-says-cities-and-counties-cannot-restrict-cannabis

November 1, 2018

 

Measure M

Measure M, on the November 2018 ballot, asks voters if they want to tax commercial marijuana. Tuolumne County does not allow commercial marijuana business activities, especially commercial cultivation. We the voters have not been asked if we want to allow commercial marijuana cultivation, so why are we being asked if we want to tax it? This is a prime example of the “cart before the horse.”

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors have said they will never allow commercial marijuana activities unless they can tax it. Let there be no mistake, Measure M is another step down the road to allowing commercial marijuana in our community. A NO vote on Measure M says NO to Commercial Marijuana Cultivation in Tuolumne County.

A NO vote sends a strong message to the marijuana cartels and the addiction-for-profit industry that they are not welcome in Tuolumne County. It sends a message that Tuolumne County is not going to repeat the mess in Calaveras County. Most importantly, it sends a message to the youth, who are our future, that the community stands behind them, not the big marijuana industry.

Voters thought Prop 64 was just decriminalizing personal medicinal and recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, the vote count from Prop 64 has been used to argue for commercial marijuana grows in our community. Let’s not repeat that mistake by voting for something that is not what it seems.

“Regulate and tax” is the mantra of those promoting commercial marijuana, saying it will wipe out the black market and keep drugs out of the hands of our youth. Results from places like Calaveras County, Oregon and Colorado show just the opposite; they are struggling with the consequences. Wherever commercial marijuana has been allowed you see increase of violent crime; black market expansion; diversion of precious water resources; skyrocketing marijuana use by youth; rampant environmental pollution, including the death of endangered species and life-threatening water pollution.

Research shows that for every marijuana tax dollar received, ten dollars must be spent on the problems that come with it: increased law enforcement, code compliance, human trafficking prevention, emergency room visits, mental illness, suicides, and DUI accidents and deaths, to name just a few. Every tax dollar added to the price of marijuana provides a dollar advantage to the black market.

Some claim that AB924 says the State of California will force the county to grow commercial marijuana and therefore we need to have a tax in place. Read AB924; the truth is it only seeks to exert California marijuana laws over Indian Lands.

Only 10 out of 58 counties in California allow commercial marijuana cultivation. Rejecting Measure M would send a strong, clear signal that Tuolumne County is not going to allow commercial marijuana.

If Measure M passes, the big-money commercial marijuana business interests will claim the “yes” for taxes is also a “yes” for commercial marijuana cultivation. Our Board of Supervisors have said they will not allow commercial marijuana unless they can tax it.

Help us secure the future of Tuolumne County and our children by voting NO on Measure M.

References

[1] Silent Poison report on the environmental impact in Calaveras County https://silentpoison.com/

[2] The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Volume 5 https://rmhidta.org/files/D2DF/FINAL%20Volume%205%20UPDATE%202018.pdf

[3] Chronic State Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTYs3baYewg

[4] Chronic State Documentary https://vimeo.com/280127474

October 15, 2018

 

Proposition 6 - Gas Tax

Have you read the Argument in Favor of Proposition 6 in the Official Voter Information Guide? [1] If the guide is accurate, we the taxpayers are being subjected to Highway Robbery in the construction of gold-plated highways. If true, we should be able to lower taxes AND get our roads fixed. Our state legislature seems out of control!

Check out these excerpts:

  • FACT: California has a $16 billion budget surplus, but the Sacramento politicians decided to spend billions this year on their pet projects instead of improving roads, bridges and highways. In fact, over the last ten years, the Legislature has actually REDUCED Caltrans funding by 18 percent.

  • FACT: 72% of all state motor vehicle related taxes and fees collected by the state are used for programs other than streets, roads and highways. It’s time to end the transportation funding shell game.

  • Don’t be fooled by opponents who claim there is no money to fix roads if Prop. 6 passes. If the transportation-related taxes and fees we have already paid, before this new tax increase took effect, were actually spent on transportation, the state would have $5.6 billion annually for transportation needs, without raising taxes.

  • The waste of taxpayer dollars going to transportation is legendary. California could have great roads if it simply adopted basic reforms.”—Robert K. Best, former Director of Caltrans

So are these claims true? Here’s some points to consider:

Locally, I’ve heard the rumor that if Prop 6 passes, Tuolumne County will have to repay several million dollars it has already received under AB-1 (which Prop 6 seeks to eliminate). I am unable to find any such directive in the text of Prop 6. Here is the entire text of Prop 6 for you to read yourself [4]:

  • SECTION 1. Statement of Findings and Purposes.
    (a) California’s taxes on gasoline and car ownership are among the highest in the nation.
    (b) These taxes have been raised without the consent of the people.
    (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to require voter approval of the recent increase in the gas and car tax enacted by Chapter 5 of the Statutes of 2017 and any future increases in the gas and car tax.
    SEC. 2. Voter Approval for Increases in Gas and Car Tax.
    SEC. 2.1. Section 3.5 is added to Article XIIIA of the California Constitution, to read:
    Sec. 3.5. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Legislature shall not impose, increase or extend any tax, as defined in Section 3, on the sale, storage, use, or consumption of motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of a resident of California to operate on the public highways a vehicle or trailer coach, unless and until that proposed tax is submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote.
    (b) This section does not apply to taxes on motor vehicle gasoline or diesel fuel, or on the privilege of operating a vehicle or trailer coach at the rates that were in effect on January 1, 2017. Any increase in the rate of such taxes imposed after January 1, 2017, shall cease to be imposed unless and until approved by the electorate as required by this section.

An excellent source for additional detail is BallotPedia (5).

If elected, I will make every effort to work with (i.e. reason with, lobby, prod, poke, cajole) our state legislature to direct all monies that are intended for roads, to actually go to our roads.

[1] https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2018/general/pdf/prop6-title-summ-analysis.pdf

[2] https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/brown-signs-his-final-budget-takes-victory-lap

[3] https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article132716344.html

[4] https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2018/general/pdf/topl.pdf#prop6

[5] https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_6,_Voter_Approval_for_Future_Gas_and_Vehicle_Taxes_and_2017_Tax_RepealInitiative(2018)

October 15, 2018

 

Broadband

What is broadband? Broadband means Internet service which, for example, is fast enough for business activity or for watching high-definition (HD) videos on YouTube. Broadband typically means speeds of at least 8Mbps for homes, while 25Mbps and above (even to 1000Mbps) is preferred for businesses.

Why do we need broadband? More and more businesses depend on the Internet to reach customers and operate their business. For “Front Porch” type companies, their employees often must work from home at any hour of the night and day, and they need a fast Internet connection. Broadband has become a key factor in real estate, as people will often not want to buy a house that does not have broadband. Broadband means more job opportunities to help keep our younger working people here.

Why doesn’t Tuolumne County have broadband? Tuolumne County has multiple broadband providers, such as Comcast, AT&T and several others. The issue is that these providers have not extended their services to all parts of the county. Fiber optic and high-speed copper cables are expensive to install and the providers are reluctant to spend significant amounts of money for a relatively small number of customers. The cell phone system also provides broadband service (especially with 4G LTE), however we all know about the problems of our cell phone service in the mountains. The same situation with underserved communities occurred when electricity was introduced in the early 1900’s and the problem was addressed by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.

What is the U.S. government doing? The Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act is working its way through the US Congress. [1, 2, 3] The previous and current U.S. presidents have also signed executive orders aimed at improving the situation. [4]

What can the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors do?

  1. Work with the county staff and internet providers to obtain grants to expand service.
  2. Hold internet providers accountable to extend service as per their franchise agreements. Seek to put more teeth into future franchise extensions and agreements. For example, Comcast’s minimum of 40 homes per cable mile is unacceptable. [5]
  3. Clear any unnecessary red-tape which may be holding up broadband expansion projects.
  4. Consider tax or other incentives relative to broadband expansion projects.

[1] http://www.govtech.com/fs/internet/US-Senate-Allocates-425-Million-for-Rural-Broadband-Expansion.html

[2] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1676

[3] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4232

[4] https://www.cnet.com/news/trump-pushes-for-more-broadband-in-rural-areas/

[5] http://www.sierrapark.org/Cable_Services/Cable_Services_Franchise_Agreement_County_of_Tuolumne_and_Comcast_06-0245-00_2-8-2007.pdf PDF page 19.

October 17, 2018

 

PG&E Tree Trimming

NOTE: PG&E will hold an Open House on Saturday, October 20th from 3-5pm. Click for the TC OES Press Release and for the PG&E Flyer.

If you live in District 3, you are well aware of the tree mortality issue and you are used to seeing tree cutting contractors removing dead and dying trees. In the wake of recent litigation, PG&E has significantly stepped up their Community Wildfire Safety Program by removing live trees which could potentially fall on power lines and start another devastating wildfire. We can all agree that we don’t need another Rim Fire or Donnell Fire, but we also love where we live, and we love the trees which surround us. In the last few weeks there has been a noticeable increase in trees being marked and cut near power lines. Alarmingly, there have apparently been cases of trees being cut that did not need to be cut, and many trees have been cut on private property (and possibly not in the utility easement) without the owner’s permission.

Over the last week, I have done research, talked to homeowners and homeowner associations, researched PG&E and contacted the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which oversees and regulates PG&E.

It’s easy to repeat news, but its important as a Supervisor to get the facts before making decisions.

In a nut shell this is what I have discovered:

  • Under new CPUC rules PG&E has a minimum 4-foot vegetation clearance requirement. In Tier 3 extreme fire hazard areas (such as parts of District 3), the clearance requirement extends to 12 feet [1, 2]. It appears that is a recommendation homeowners can agree to or not agree to per CPUC General Order 95 Rule 35: “Rule 35 requirements do not apply where the supply or communication company has made a ‘good faith’ effort to obtain permission to trim or remove vegetation but permission was refused or unobtainable.” [3]
  • PG&E has contracted with foresters and arborists (such as ACRT) to identify and mark trees needing to be cut down. They have separately contracted with tree cutting companies to cut those trees. These entities are separate from each other for good reason. One company gets paid to mark the trees, probably by the mile of PG&E line, the other company gets paid to remove the trees, probably by the tree.

I recently met with a citizen in Twain Harte who believes a tree cutter was marking additional trees on his property. When the citizen confronted the individual, he advised the property owner that they can go on people’s private property whenever they want, that “they do it all the time.” He advised the property owner that he would be cutting down “all the trees.” The conversation was videotaped by the property owner.

It is evident that PG&E is under extreme scrutiny, a direct result of litigation due to catastrophic fires sparked by their power lines. The fact that they are going to pay for the removal of all hazardous trees is truly amazing. They must protect our local communities from fires caused by power lines. We need a balanced approach to handling this situation. We need PG&E to remove hazardous trees, even if some are alive, as they pose a risk to our families, our neighbors and our community should they cause a fire. We need to help them help us. On the other hand, we need to hold PG&E and all their subcontractors accountable for their work and their actions. If a tree cutter is making money by marking extra trees to be cut, that is clearly a case of fraud and should be prosecuted.

 

What to do?

ACRT maintains a database of all the trees they inspect, and any recommendations for trimming or removal. If you suspect trees are mis-marked, or worse yet, cut when they should not have been, you should contact Alicia Lomelli at PG&E. Her number is 510-227-7226. If something is wrong file a complaint with PG&E by calling Alicia and file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/pubsafetycomplaint/. If ACRT marked your trees and you don’t want them cut, call PG&E and ask them to explain why the trees were marked and see if you can negotiate a reasonable solution. PG&E says they will work with homeowners.

 

The Bigger Picture.

Our forests are unhealthy and devastating wildfires have been on the rise and are expected to continue in the decades that lie ahead. The bigger picture in view is that we need a long-term strategy to get us out of this multi-decade mess of forest mismanagement. It is critical that we create proper firebreaks now. We need forest thinning now. These activities would create jobs, stimulate the local economy, help small businesses and provide for road improvements. That’s why if I'm elected, being part of the solution for a healthier forest will be one of my top priorities. For more information about my thoughts on the forest, please read the topic below on Forest Management.

[1] https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/emergency-preparedness/natural-disaster/wildfires/vegetation-management.page?WT.pgeac=Wildfire_Community-Tab1-VegMgmt

[2] http://bof.fire.ca.gov/board_business/binder_materials/2018/may2018meeting/full0518/full_13.0_pacific_gas_and_electric_community_wildfire_safety_program.pdf see page 9.

[3] http://cpuc.ca.gov/gos/GO95/go_95_rule_35.html

September 18, 2018, updated October 13, 2018

 

Economic Development

Tuolumne County has not done what is needed to market itself as an attractive place to do business and provide a high quality of life with a great atmosphere for raising a family. For people to come, this county’s many unique attributes need to be communicated to businesses and entrepreneurs. I plan to develop and offer special tax incentives that will attract business. I believe if business people knew Tuolumne County was an option for them, we would see an economic shift and many new opportunities for all levels of employment.

I am tired of seeing young families moving away in search of better jobs and economic opportunities. Working families are the heartbeat of our local society and without them we will not prosper. Tuolumne County is located just a few hours drive from an economic powerhouse and we have done nothing to build bridges to bring opportunities our way. I believe we have many advantages over the Bay Area and if elected Supervisor, I plan to work with the TCEDA to put a plan in motion to attract businesses to our area.

Wouldn’t it be nice if grandparents didn’t have to travel to see their grandkids who have had to relocate?

October 5, 2018

 

Roads

As I talk with people in District 3, a major concern is “What are you going to do about our roads?” And believe me, I get it. As I’ve been knocking on doors, I’ve traveled on well over 300 roads in our district. Many are in horrible Third World condition. Yet we live in a state with the world’s 5th largest economy! We all know roads are expensive to fix and no one wants to pay more taxes, so what can we do? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve spent time investigating and here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  • In the big picture, a large part of the problem is that historically politicians like to spend money on shiny new projects. Big projects like new roads and new buildings define politicians and their legacy. Unfortunately, basic road maintenance is not very exciting [1].
  • The citizens of District 3 and Tuolumne County are experiencing the same problems as other rural counties in California, and across the US for that matter. Roads continue to get worse. The roads in Tuolumne County have a pavement condition index (PCI) of 33, which is categorized as Poor [2].
  • County roads are primarily paid for by state gasoline taxes, not county taxes.

    Federal excise tax on gasoline: 18.4 cents per gallon (24.4 cents for diesel). This amounts to about $35B (2014). About 60% of this is used for roads and bridges. The other 40% goes to earmarks (government speak for the shell game where monies are spent on things not originally intended) [3].

    California gasoline tax: 30 cents per gallon (36 cents for diesel, plus 5.75% sales tax) after the passage of SB-1. California collects about $3.24B per year from these taxes. $1.48B is allocated to local streets and roads [4]. Tuolumne County ends up with about $4M per year (0.27%), and our population is about 54.2K of California’s 39.8M people (0.14%) which means we get more funding per capita, but clearly not enough to maintain our roads.

    California distributes money back to the counties using a formula based on each county's number of registered vehicles and the amount of gasoline tax revenue generated in the county. There are several grants that counties go after for special projects, but the bulk of our road funds come through the state gasoline tax.

  • Many roads in Tuolumne were never engineered. Many are paved-over wagon trails, making them a maintenance nightmare. We are stuck with that.
  • The Tuolumne County Roads Department categorizes our roads as Arterials, Major Collectors, Minor Collectors, Local Collectors and Local Roads. They prioritize work on the critical major roads first. This means, for example, that Local Roads may never receive any significant maintenance.
  • Caltrans has 1 worker for every 6 miles of highway. Tuolumne County has 1 road worker for every 29 miles of road. Less manpower.
  • Our roads are deteriorating faster than we can perform basic maintenance, let alone larger projects such as resurfacing.

Solutions:

  • Maintain fire escape roads!!! I have personally witnessed fire escape routes which are impassible to all but high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles. In the event of wildfire blocking primary egress routes, the secondary escape routes would immediately become blocked with street cars stuck in the road, putting lives at risk. This is insane! I don’t care what it takes, we have to move heaven and earth to fix these roads now!

    I believe we need to do a complete assessment of all communities in our district, and the county, to make sure every community has satisfactory primary and secondary egress routes in case of wildfire. This is a basic responsibility of government.

  • Change the tax allocation formula. The formula for allocating tax revenues to Tuolumne County needs to be changed. We have a low number of registered vehicles, yet we attract a large number of cars which drive on our roads due to tourism, vacations and second homes. Many of these people buy their gas near their permanent homes and drive here, never buying any gasoline in Tuolumne County. We need to fight Sacramento using statistical (and perhaps actual measured) data to drive these points home and request additional funds. This is where the Board of Supervisors involvement with the Rural Counties Representation of California (RCRC) is important to help deliver that message.
  • Continue to go after Payment In Lieu of Taxes. PILT provides several millions of dollars to the county’s general fund most years [see Taxes topic]. At least a portion of this money can and should be spent on roads.
  • Restore the health of our forests. Work with the State and Federal government to address the mismanagement of our forests. This would create industry and generate tax dollars which could go towards our local roads. Governor Brown just issued an executive order to start restoring the health of our forests. $96M comes in addition to $160M proposed in January’s Cap and Trade expenditure plan to support forest improvements and fire protection [5]. As supervisor, I would fight to make Tuolumne County a pilot project for healthy forests, and in turn, help address our failing roads.
  • Focus on preventative maintenance to slow deterioration. Put more focus on cleaning out drainages and culvert pipes at appropriate times of the year. This must be the number 1 priority. However it does not appear to be happening, or at least not very consistently. Because of this, water pours over the roads, seeps under the roads and contributes to the accelerated breakdown of the roads.
  • Fix potholes with hot patches. Currently the road crews use a “cold patch” on pot holes. Unfortunately, it takes weeks or months to harden. In the winter these fixes may only last a few days. The fix? Use hot asphalt. Yes, it will cost money to acquire a hot asphalt rig, but the return on investment is probably very high. This needs to be analyzed more carefully. There are other products which may outperform cold and hot mix asphalt that might be worth considering [6].
  • Convert some local roads to gravel (at least below the snow line). At a quarter of the cost, the rest of the money can be put into more critical throughways. I personally don’t like the idea, but it might have to happen on some rarely used backroads.

There is no simple solution when it comes to fixing our roads. I am no expert, but I have and will continue to talk to the experts to gather information and make informed decisions. But just because there is not an easy solution, does not mean we should do nothing. I say Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS): let’s start with lobbying for more money from Sacramento, continue going after grants, use the equipment we have to clean out drainages in order to slow road deterioration, and use “hot mix” on pot holes. That’s a start.

But above all else we must address fire escape routes!

[1] https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2015/02/americas-infrastructure-crisis-is-really-a-maintenance-crisis/385452/

[2] https://www.cacities.org/Resources-Documents/Member-Engagement/Professional-Departments/Public-Works-Officers/Documents-(1)/Local-Streets-and-Roads/2010/California-Statewide-Local-Streets-and-Roads-Asses

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States

[4] http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article147437054.html

[5] http://www.sacbee.com/news/article210913789.html

[6] https://www.pothole.info/2011/09/polymer-modified-asphalt-a-game-changer-in-cold-hot-and-wet-conditions/

May 16, 2018

 

Taxes

No more tax increases. Government takes enough from our pockets already. Government needs to say no to things it can’t afford, just like I must do several times a month during my personal budget reviews. Government needs to plan ahead with the financial resources available to them now and understand that it’s not the government’s money, it’s the taxpayers’ money. Government needs to be better stewards of what we give them.

Solutions:

  • I will proactively work to help local businesses grow and prosper. Jobs and private industry will grow our tax base. A healthy economy lifts all ships.
  • I will continue to go after Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) revenue from the government. Tuolumne County is made up of approximately 70% federal and state land. People use this land for tourism, recreation and industry. This requires local services such as law enforcement, road maintenance, and search & rescue, which we pay for with our local tax dollars. We are not collecting taxes for this land use and PILT and SRS are designed to reimburse the county accordingly. The revenue from these sources is not very predictable and has been dropping [1]. I will work to fully restore these critical revenue sources.
  • I stand against commercial marijuana cultivation. Make no mistake, marijuana cultivation will force increased taxes. For every $1 generated in taxes more than $10 in costs to society will go unfunded [see Marijuana Cultivation topic]. I like to call commercial marijuana cultivation "Big Marijuana" because it will be run by big corporations who only care about profits and not all the carnage they create.

Concerns:

  • The State of California continues to push spending mandates down to the county, which consume more and more of the county’s budget. These “unfunded liabilities” will potentially bankrupt the county. As a supervisor I will do everything in my power to turn this situation around. My experience in working with Sacramento on the constant flow of regulatory changes in the prison system makes me acutely aware of the churn in our state government.
  • Medicinal and recreational marijuana is here as a result of Proposition 64 and related legislation. Just to deal with increased code compliance and law enforcement issues, Tuolumne County is expecting to increase spending by over $400K per year [2]. This is on top of a $4M budget deficit. And that is just the beginning. Tuolumne County will eventually need to set up an appeals office, attorney and even a judge to dispute code compliance violations. Where is that money going to come from? Tax increases?

[1] https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/333495/tuolumne-county-hoping-for-pilt-and-secure-rural-schools-funding.html

[2] http://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6067014-151/supervisors-approve-rules-on-growing-pot-for-personal

April 3, 2018

 

Affordable Housing

We live in California. Two and a half hours away is Silicon Valley with some of the highest housing prices in the nation [1]. Good luck finding affordable housing when the Bay Area is this close with its wealthy population buying homes in the Mother Lode.

Solutions:

  • We need many more good paying jobs. If you have a good paying job, then you can afford a home. Instead of only attracting retired folks from the Bay Area, let’s also attract telecommuters. They not only buy homes, but who also bring with them jobs and strong incomes, which contribute cash flow to the local economy. And let’s work with our local businesses to find ways to improve the business climate with a mind towards creating more jobs.
  • If you’re a young family and can’t save money for a home because rent is too high, I have a solution. Adjust zoning ordinances for homeowners to allow to them to build accessory dwellings (second, smaller homes) on their land. More homes for rent would open up. Supply and demand would drive rent down or keep it from rising as drastically. In some cases, older people could move into the smaller second home and rent out the larger first home to families. Or, older people could rent the small second home to their health care provider if one is needed. This would provide retirement income for seniors and jobs for local contractors and trades people.

[1] https://www.trulia.com/home_prices/

April 3, 2018

 

Sanctuary State

I stand against California’s Sanctuary State Law. I believe in Law and Order – and this is not Law and Order. The sanctuary state law serves to provide a safe haven for a criminal element we don’t need. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will lead our county’s Board of Supervisors to issue a proclamation that Tuolumne County is not a Sanctuary County.

April 3, 2018

 

Homelessness

Homelessness is obviously not an easy problem to solve. Many are homeless due to the state of our economy. And guess what, I have met some homeless people who like being homeless. They have the freedom to choose their lifestyle. I do want to help those that are down and out. But I don’t want to see the government getting involved with our homeless unless they are veterans, as we owe everything to vets. When government gets involved, they are spending your money and it’s usually not spent very efficiently or effectively.

Solutions:

  • I want to see local churches, private organizations and concerned citizens spearhead the solutions. For example, we have recently seen a local couple build a bus for homeless people to take showers [1]. Citizens, churches and organizations who care about the homeless also care about every dollar spent. They are better able to meet the needs in an effective way.
  • If we don’t want to see the homeless rate increase, we need to address the economy. A better economy means jobs for those who are homeless and want to improve their situation.

[1] http://www.uniondemocrat.com/exports/newsletters/main/6062821-151/homeless-advocates-plan-to-launch-shower-bus-in

April 3, 2018

 

Do I Have Time to be a Supervisor?

People often ask me if I will be able to juggle family, work and being a youth leader with my duties as a supervisor? The short answer is yes. When I set my mind to something, I do it. In order to be successful, it is important to be well organized and well prioritized. Graduating college Cum Laude in just two and a half years after being a semi-professional skier, writing two books (one is published), coaching soccer, a youth director at my church, building my own house and being promoted at work (currently one promotion away from Captain) are fruit of my work ethic. I should also point out that my extended family has been and continues to be very supportive and helpful as needed.

Last year, I acted as general contractor and managed my entire house construction project. I even did a significant amount of the work myself. Prior to building, I realized there are about 720 hours in a month. I work about 170 of those. That leaves me with 550 hours to accomplish other things. I have a flexible schedule at work, so I will be able to attend board meetings, committee meetings and other events and functions. The current District 3 Supervisor has been running a private construction business during his tenure on the board.

Most positions at the prison carry a hard or mandatory 8 hour shift. This includes Correctional Officers, Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc. I am a Supervising Correctional Counselor in a different division of the prison. I am not bound to a hard schedule. I have a flexible schedule which allows me to come and go whenever I choose. This is how I was able to build my home last year by working different schedules to allow me to be on the job site when needed. Since running for District 3 Supervisor, I have utilized my flexible schedule to allow me to attend meetings and candidates’ activities. Having the flex schedule allows me to work to my schedule. It should also be noted, the Warden has approved my candidacy, as well as the Department of Corrections legal department in Sacramento. I was pleasantly surprised to find out along this process, there are many other governmental officials throughout California and the United States who work in government while maintaining full time jobs. Having this aspect gives one the ability to truly be “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

In case you haven’t noticed, I have energy, I get things done. While the other candidates are talking about me, I’ve been out knocking on your doors and talking to so many of you, the constituents of District 3. We’ve talked about a range of issues and you’ve given me first-hand knowledge of things that really bother you, such as our crumbling roads, snow removal, and of course, your concerns about commercial marijuana cultivation.

Finally, I am inspired by people such as the framers of the Constitution. Didn’t they have businesses and jobs outside of politics? Perhaps if more elected offices, from Washington D.C. all the way down, were not “full time” positions, we would have people more concerned about the money Government is spending; that is, your money.

At the end of the day, my family is number one and they will always come first. Actually, they are the reason I am running for office. I want my kids to have a bright future. I can’t just sit around, watch stuff happen and complain. Seriously, I am the only candidate to actually stand up at a Board of Supervisors meeting and say no to Big Marijuana [1].

In summary, with your support I will win, and my wife Aimee and I have already written out a list of things in our lives we will change to free our schedules for more family time and for me to serve my community well as a Supervisor. I know you want the next District 3 Supervisor to be someone who listens to you, asks questions, does research and then gets things done. I know how to get things done. I am passionate. I am fearless.

[1] http://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/5982810-151/supervisor-royce-will-not-seek-reelection

April 10, 2018, updated May 24, 2018

 

Forest Management

One of my earliest memories was collecting bark beetles in Mi Wuk Village with my grandfather. He sent the bark beetles to universities for their research projects. My grandfather, who had a Master’s degree in Chemistry and was a volunteer firefighter, told me our forests were not being managed properly and when drought came, the bark beetles would attack in a way we have never seen, killing many trees and leaving the entire forest vulnerable to destructive fires on a scale never before seen. Fast forward 25 years and we seem to be living in the days he predicted, having experienced the Stanislaus Complex and Rim Fires which devastated our local forests. Mismanaged forests continue to threaten our communities.

My plan is to make sure Tuolumne County continues to spearhead wise management of our forests. Our forests are the subject of extensive research and we should continue to pursue federal and private sector funding to bring our forests to a healthy state.

Our forests are fire habituated and they need to burn periodically at low intensity to reduce the fuel loading. As we know, a century of fire suppression has left our forests overgrown and explosive. Safely achieving low intensity fires is dangerous as there is a tremendous risk of touching off a significant conflagration. While our forests are resilient, catastrophic fires sterilize the soils, accelerating soil nutrient loss and significantly retarding regrowth.

The conditions of our forests has a huge impact on the ecology at the local, state, national and even worldwide level. In California, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires can exceed the annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels [1]. Research shows fuel reduction treatments, such as thinning, reduce fire severity and increase carbon sequestration [2].

We need to find more ways to encourage responsible private thinning operations to reduce fuel loading while providing local jobs, and most importantly, not consuming tax dollars. It’s going to take serious work and a long time to transition to a well-managed forest, but we need to move and move fast.

Unfortunately, fire suppression has become a vicious cycle and consumes more and more State and Federal funds with little remaining for prevention. We have no choice but to continue fire-suppression efforts, but we must focus on prevention by restoring our forests to a healthy state.

Solutions

  • Support Governor Brown’s decision to create a task force of scientists and forestry experts to study how to best manage the forests. I would like Tuolumne County to be a spearhead for such efforts and to host state pilot programs here [3].
  • Turn this liability into an asset. Continue to develop and promote responsible thinning operations. Convert the thinned wood into commercial wood products which sequester carbon for years to come, boosts the local economy and increases the tax base.
  • Pursue aggressive strategies to remove dead and dying trees. Studies show the amount of carbon released by woody debris on the forest floor on a worldwide basis may be on par with fossil fuel emissions [4].
  • Continue to develop responsible wildfire restoration approaches, taking into consideration fire intensity and other factors. Replant when it makes sense and leave it to nature when it makes sense.

Concerns:

  • Marijuana cultivation is a federal violation. What if our county were to permit marijuana cultivation? What if one of those cultivators, whether permitted or not, started a fire in our forest. Would the federal government bailout our county with money to fight the fire when the cause of the fire was due to a federal violation? The Rim Fire suppression cost was $127M [5].

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2203970/

[2] https://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/north/psw_2009_north(hurteau)004.pdf

[3] http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-following-devastating-wildfires-gov-1516907712-htmlstory.html

[4] https://cbmjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/1750-0680-3-1

[5] http://www.sierranevada.ca.gov/our-work/mokelumne-watershed-analysis/MACA_4_Fire_Suppression_Costs.pdf

April 13, 2018

 

Marijuana Cultivation Update

Since first publishing information here in The Fine Print about Big Marijuana Cultivation, the press has been alive with stories about the issues. Here are a few:

  • Carbofuran is poisoning our water: “The illegal grows, where the highly toxic pesticide Carbofuran is prevalent, pose an increasing threat to water, wildlife and ultimately people, officials said. Researcher Mourad Gabriel told The Associated Press that he and his colleagues found the chemical at 72 percent of grow sites last year, up from 15 percent in 2012.”

    “About 60 percent of California’s water supply flows through national forests, and researchers found that 40 percent of water samples downstream from illegal grows are contaminated.” [1]

  • Chinese and Mexican cartels are rapidly expanding black market operations in California. [1][2] The Cubans cartels are moving into Colorado. [3] Liberalization of marijuana laws was supposed to reduce or eliminate the black market. Nice theory, but the opposite is happening.
  • DUI’s are up: “According to Sgt. Rob Nacke, spokesman for the CHP’s Golden Gate District, which includes the nine-county Bay Area, if the trend since 2017 continues, 2018 could see a 70-percent rise in pot DUI arrests.” [4]
  • Crime is up in Colorado: “In 2016, the state's crime rate was up 5% compared with 2013, while the national trend was downward. Violent crime went up 12.5% in the same time while the national increase was less than 5%.” [5]

[1] https://apnews.com/988936fe9719461dad5989c58a0e0da9

[2] http://www.kolotv.com/content/news/Feds-Sacramento-raids-cost-Chinese-gang-hundreds-of-millions-478830373.html

[3] https://www.today.com/video/inside-a-raid-on-a-cuban-drug-den-in-colorado-1243696707528

[4] https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/05/16/bay-areas-deadly-pot-related-crash-added-to-list-of-tragedies-in-other-cannabis-friendly-states/

[5] https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/20/us/colorado-marijuana-and-crime/index.html

June 1, 2018

 

Marijuana Cultivation

Medical and recreational marijuana is here under California law. Now the question is whether we should allow commercial cultivation? Most of the citizens I meet in District 3 don’t want commercial marijuana cultivation here. They could care less if you smoke it, but don’t want our community being ruined by marijuana cultivation and all the things that go along with it. They don't want to see Big Marijuana in our county and they want to avoid the problems Calaveras County is having.

  • Crime rate will increase. Colorado has seen a 11% increase in crime from 2013 to 2106 [ 1]. Recently in Calaveras County 7 out of 10 homicides were related to the marijuana industry [ 2]. There will also be increases in human trafficking (illegal labor) and in-home robberies (going after grower’s cash from the marijuana grows). I spoke with a Butte County Detective who stated that gangs from Oakland were coming to their communities and doing home invasions of marijuana cultivators [ 3].
  • Marijuana-related traffic deaths will increase. In Colorado, the number of deaths more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 125 deaths in 2016 [ 1].
  • Medical expenses will increase. In Colorado, the yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 72 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2009-2012 vs. 2013-2015) 1.
  • The theory that legalization will eliminate Black Market sounds nice, but it is having the opposite effect. From 2015 to 2017, Colorado has seen the share of student access to marijuana from the Black Market increase from 18% to 26% [ 4]. California is considering reducing taxes on marijuana in an effort to drive down the Black Market [ 5]. Calaveras and other counties are finding that with most registered grows, there are 2 to 3 illegal grows associated with it (the legal growers are part of the Black Market).
  • It has been promised that marijuana tax dollars will help schools. Calaveras County had a legal marijuana cultivation program and rumor is they were receiving tax money from the marijuana sales. I called the schools there and found out they have not received a penny of tax revenue. What is really happening is kids are showing up at school reeking of marijuana smell and getting teased by other kids. The schools are having the kids change clothes when they come to school and are washing their clothes for them. Yes, the schools are putting in washers and dryers to clean kid’s clothes.
  • It has been promised that marijuana tax dollars will help solve a variety of problems. There will be some grants to schools. Those grants are to help kids who are at risk. “Funds shall be allocated to counties based on demonstrated need, including the number of youth in the county, the prevalence of substance use disorders among adults, and confirmed through statistical data, validated assessments, or submitted reports prepared by the applicable county to demonstrate and validate need.” [ 6] So in order to get grant money, we need to get our teenagers high and show we have a problem - brilliant.
  • The environmental damage caused by black market marijuana cultivation is unprecedented. The growers dam streams, pour chemicals in the ponds and then pipe the water to the grows. The polluted pond water easily escapes and flows down our streams and rivers. The growers use other chemicals to kill rodents. Carbofuran is banned in the US, but is imported from Mexico and is getting into our streams, polluting our water [ 7]. There are reports these chemicals are killing the spotted-owl [ 8].
  • Marijuana cultivation will force increased taxes. For every $1 generated in taxes more than $10 in costs to society will go unfunded [ 9].

[ 1] http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%202017%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf pp. 1-5 (PDF pp. 9-13)

[ 2] http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_fe150ddc-6e42-11e6-a54a-c7bc708d002b.html

[ 3] http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article21739191.html

[ 4] http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%202017%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf pp. 47, 45 (PDF pp. 55, 53)

[ 5] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2018-03-15/california-could-cut-pot-taxes-in-bid-to-lure-legal-users

[ 6] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=RTC&sectionNum=34019 34019.(f)(1)(K)

[ 7] https://silentpoison.com/

[ 8] http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-owls-marijuana-poison-20180111-story.html

[ 9] The costs to society for both alcohol and tobacco exceed total sales by approximately 180%. Assuming marijuana is similar and is taxed at 15%, then taxes will provide 9% of what is needed to deal with costs to society. Who will pay for the other 91%? One way or the other you and I will. 91%/9% is approximately 10. So for every tax dollar earned, the cost to society will be more than $10.

https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

https://www.statista.com/statistics/207936/us-total-alcoholic-beverages-sales-since-1990/

https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/problem/toll-us/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/491709/tobacco-united-states-market-value/

April 3, 2018

 

Financial Reports

My opponent has widely criticized me for raising so much money. She challenged everyone to ”study the 460 financial reports”. So I did. What I found is a report full of material errors. Astonishing for someone with so much experience and fiscal responsibility. Is this on purpose or just incompetence? Is this who you want supervising county finances?

Here is a summary of the material errors in my opponent's financial reports.

Form 460 Analysis

October 20, 2018