Placer’s Energy Future

The Golden State Warriors with their lightening passes, 3-pointers from the other side of the moon and tenacious defense clobbered the Cavs to win the NBA Basketball Championship. It’s exciting to watch a team perform at the top of their game.

In the public policy arena, the stakes are higher. We need our local elected officials to perform at the top […]

The Biomass Imperative and God Art

As I sit down to write this column from my perch overlooking the American River Canyon my eyes slowly move from the rolling green hills of pine and oak, to the low meandering clouds that gently cut a thousand invisible trails in the sky, top the bright reflective lights of the snow-capped Sierra Mountains. I marvel at what my wife […]

Firestorms, Policy and the Big Mo

Watching the devastating impacts on human beings as the Sand Fire swept through the borderlands of Amador and El Dorado counties, it reminded me that momentum is a powerful force in both nature and the creation of public policy. For instance, there is a scientific phenomenon called a firestorm. A firestorm occurs when the fire becomes so intense that the […]

Preparing for the Inevitable

“Wildfire in the City of Auburn is inevitable. It is just a matter of when.” That’s the first key assumption in the “2009-2010 Strategic Plan to Aid in the Prevention of Catastrophic Wildfire in the City of Auburn.” In the spring and summer months, dry grass, brush, and oak and pine trees surround homes and businesses in the City of […]

The Fire Next Time

A key obstacle that blocks the implementation of public policies designed to prevent catastrophic fires, save lives and homes and enhance the health of our forestlands is the race of time. How public officials and firefighting agencies react in the aftermath of the devastating 49er Fire in North Auburn, which destroyed 63 homes, three businesses and burned 343 acres, will […]

A big thanks to Project Canyon Safe volunteers

I want to express my deep-felt gratitude to the 114 individuals who got up early last Saturday morning, worked hard all day, and made the brush and wood fuel clearing project at the end of Robie Drive a huge success.

I initially hoped that our team, consisting mainly of volunteers, would be able to cut and chip brush and wood from […]

Think inside the tinderbox

The Auburn Journal editorial, “2010: Let’s get back to basics” (Jan. 3), noted in reference to the devastating 49 Fire, “If area residents had known what could have happened when hot, dry, windy conditions met a spark last Aug. 30, they would have cleared the dry brush and scrub oak off Highway 49 near Bell Road.”

But disaster doesn’t have to […]

Catastrophic Wildfire and the Cooperative Solution

Your editorial, “2010: Let’s Get Back to Basics” (1/3/10), noted that the “horrific 49 Fire reminded us what can happen when fire, wind and drought conditions mix” and that working to prevent a catastrophic fire in the American River Canyon is a key public safety challenge for city officials and Auburn residents. The canyon is indeed “a tinderbox at Auburn’s […]

Snowflake Enablers

Ok, I admit it. Soon after my high school graduation, I failed the English Placement Exam. That meant that I had to take English 1A, euphemistically known as “Bonehead English,” my first quarter at Foothill Community College in Los Altos Hills, California. This was in the late 1970s when our hippy-dippy tenured high school teachers thought it was quite oppressive […]

One Heart, an Armed Robber, and 4119 Other Patients

I finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a bioethicist. Some prestigious hospital or university would pay me big bucks to, in response to a medical/ethical crisis like the birth of a cloned human being, issue Solomon-like wisdom and guidance for public officials, reporters, and everyone else on how to handle […]

UC Admissions and the Fiction Writers Club

I thought about good old Mr. Bulwer-Lytton, the art of fiction writing, and making up bad stories when I read about the new admission requirements for students who wish to be accepted for the University of California. Since 1983 several English professors at San Jose University have sponsored the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest for “the opening sentence to the worst of […]

The Washington Monument Strategy

Most of the political animals that make their living in Washington D.C. have heard of a crafty and devious maneuver called “The Washington Monument Strategy.” Legend has it that “The Washington Monument Strategy” got its name – and, no doubt, is now a permanent feature in the unofficial Bureaucratic Hall of Fame, which is located in a small unmarked room […]

Paving Old McDonald’s Farm

During last year’s debate over Placer Legacy, a proposed county program that would help preserve open space and agricultural lands I perpetuity, I remember several opponents confidently standing up and saying in public forums that the Legacy program wasn’t needed because of the Williamson Act. Most people in the audience shook their heads and naturally asked themselves, “What the heck […]