County Communications Upgrade

Russ Steele

You may remember a few weeks ago when the County Emergency Services went down when a single communication line was severed on SR-49. It was a real wake up call on how thin our communications infrastructure is in the County. This impacted our safety when 911 and cells service when down and lack or redundant communications has been an impediment to businesses locating here. I had a long discussion with Supervisor Ed Scofield about the issue, and made some recommendations. In the CEO’s Friday Memo we learn that something is being done to fix the problem.  Well done Supervisors and Staff!

AT&T Communications Infrastructure Update

Information and General Services (IGS) staff from Technical Operations and Emergency Services divisions held a meeting Thursday with a wide range of AT&T personnel.  We were very pleased to learn that AT&T has an approved construction plan to bring a new redundant fiber-optic communication line into our community.  When completed, if another cut main line event took place such as the recent outage, AT&T services would shift to this new redundant fiber route and remain functional with continued  communications services in our community.  AT&T hopes to have this new alternate fiber-optic route construction project completed by late summer.  IGS staff will continue to work closely with AT&T, Sheriff Dispatch, and the other local dispatch operations to insure that interoperability and redundancy capabilities are fully implemented.

Help for fish ordered on Yuba River

Russ Steele

Matt Weiser has the story in the Sac Bee

Federal wildlife officials have ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon are able to surmount its two dams on the Yuba River.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, in a biological opinion released late Wednesday, concludes that Daguerre Point and Englebright dams threaten the survival of the fish species. The order does not require dam removal, but that is one potential outcome.

“This is a big step forward for Yuba salmon recovery,” said Steve Rothert, California director of American Rivers, a group that has been involved in salmon restoration efforts on the river. “The idea of getting fish past Englebright Dam opens up many possibilities.”

The two dams provide no water supply or flood control benefits. Their primary purpose is a historical one: to store erosion and other debris washed downstream by long-ceased gold mining practices.

You can read the rest of the story HERE.

Having studied the salmon issues when writing my Cobalt book, there are some issues that need to be addressed.  On the Columbia river there are fish ladders to allow the salmon and steelhead to pass, but the real problem is when the fry are returning to the sea.  The small fry use the current to tell them which direction swim back to the ocean.  The dams inhibit the current flow, thus only about 2% actually return to the sea according to a Forest Service expert.

Now that this ruling is in place the pressure will increase for dam removal to provide the needed current.  While that would be best for the fish, it raises some other questions for the people who currently use the river for recreation and live on the banks of the river.

If the dams are removed in the next couple of years, what happens to the 75 years of the debris that has collected in the dams including lots of mercury? Will this turn the Yuba in to a Super Fund Clean Up site restricting people access to the river.

What will be the local economic impact, as the lakes are now used for recreation that will be taken away if the dams are removed. While fishing will improve over the years, attracting more fishing visitors to the community, but this will take a long time. The communities that are now relying on the recreation revenue will have to wait, can they survive in the mean time?

If the dams are not taken down, what will be the cost of the capture and transport option, and how effective will it be, given the lack of current to guide the fry returning to the sea?  How will the fry be captured in the lake for the return.

I would like to hear your views and insights on solving the above problems.

Grimes: Broke State Budget Hits Dead End

Russ Steele

Katy Grimes writing in the Cal WatchDog has the story, the state budget is about to hit the wall. The Governor’s budget deception, with a compliant legislature, are being exposed by reality. Katy writes:

In in an effort to avoid a cash-flow problem, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer appeared on Bloomberg news last week talking about the sale of $1 billion in state revenue anticipation notes to Barclay’s and JP Morgan.

“The private placement deal is part of a $3.3 billion plan devised by Controller John Chiang, the state’s Department of Finance, and Lockyer’s office to address a seven-week cash shortfall that the state anticipated, starting around the end of this month,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Chiang has been warning that the state would soon be facing a cash flow problem, largely because expected “revenues” did not come in.

The state will be doing more internal borrowing and delaying other payments, and plans to issue about $2 billion in general obligation debt.

According to Investorpedia, revenue anticipation notes are, “A short-term debtsecurity issued on the premise that future revenues will be sufficient to meet repayment obligations.”

You can read the rest of Katy’s insightful article HERE. But here are some choice quotes:

According to a Capitol staffer who asked to remain anonymous, it means the majority-vote budget, crafted without bi-partisan support or Republican input, is bogus, and cannot be relied upon. “It is nothing more than a pie-in-the-eye spending plan, resulting with California deeper in debt,” the staffer explained.

The majority-vote budget is based largely on the hope of $4 billion more in projected tax revenues.

However, evidence of this problem is the state’s cash-flow shortage in a year when we actually took in $8 billion more than was originally projected in January 2011.

Spending is the problem, not revenue, and our progressive legislators knew that they were deceiving the voters and taxpayers.   Katy concludes:

State lawmakers and financial officers knew what they were doing when they made these manipulations, couched in terms of “general fund decreases,” designed to cover up the increasing spending and decreasing revenue.

This is nothing more than if you borrowed a large amount of money from your rich uncle when you don’t have the income to support it, or any way to pay it back. And family members always know that a loan is really a gift.

It’s a thinly disguised plan where state officials are hoping that revenues will improve before the state finances totally melt down into bankruptcy. We’ve kicked the can so far down the road, that we are about to hit a dead-end alley.

How many rich uncles can California find before we hit the wall?  Reality takes no prisoners!