Thank you, firefighters

Feather Publishing

Northeastern California is in flames, and for many Lassen and Plumas, Tehama, Shasta and Modoc county residents, ranchers, farmers, homeowners and landowners, a group of brave and dedicated firefighters is the only defense standing between them and a heart-wrenching and devastating wall of fire.

These teams of firefighters — from the men and women on the blackened ground with hand tools to the fire engine and water tender drivers to the heavy equipment operators to the management teams that direct the fire-fighting efforts to the folks who manage the communications — come from our own local fire districts, from state and federal agencies and from fire departments all across the United States.

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Intruder is lucky to be alive

Feather Publishing


“I’m in the wrong house!”

That’s what the intruder was pleading as my wife stood a few feet away with a shotgun aimed at his gut.

My heart was still racing as I took a deep breath and tried to respond to the understatement of a lifetime.

Read more: Intruder is lucky to be alive


Cool heads needed for hot topics

Feather Publishing


As the county struggles to somehow close a nearly $1.9 million-gap in the county’s fiscal 2012 – 13 budget, it seems clear that more employee concessions are going to be needed.

We’re sure the county workforce feels the way many private employees do, as this recession drags on (no, we don’t buy the “expert” opinion that it’s over): they’re being asked to do more with fewer resources for less pay and fewer benefits.

We’re equally sure county supervisors are up against a wall. They have few places left to cut other than employee pay and benefits. As interim budget officer Susan Scarlett has said, “Personnel is the bulk of the expenditures. Payroll is always a huge part (of the county budget).”

Read more: Cool heads needed for hot topics


Officer involved shooting justified

Feather Publishing

Few events are as serious as an officer-involved shooting. Law enforcement personnel are supposed to protect us, the public. When they harm us instead, a full accounting is in order. For the officer, a shooting, particularly a fatal shooting, can be career threatening. For these reasons, there are special protocols for handling such incidents.

So it is reassuring to see how Plumas County’s law enforcement community has approached the fatal shooting in June of a Quincy man, Dennis Jason Majewski, by Plumas County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Froggatt.

Read more: Officer involved shooting justified


The fire fee/tax bill cometh!

Feather Publishing



They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes — and nearly 11,000 residents of Plumas County and 1,550 residents of Sierra County could soon find a new bill lurking at the bottom of their mailboxes for the state responsibility area fire fee many state and county officials say is really a new tax. For some state residents who already pay fire protection fees, this could even be a double tax. Those who already pay fees to a fire protection district will receive a $35 “discount” from the state.

Believe it or not, as many as 825,000 state landowners may receive a fire fee/tax bill soon.

In their oxymoronic wisdom and an eye toward a new source of revenue, the California Legislature passed, and the governor signed, Assembly Bill 29X last year. The bill assesses a $150 “fire prevention fee” on each habitable structure — including mobile homes — on property within a state responsibility fire area. The California Board of Forestry adopted emergency regulations to establish the fee/tax. A private contractor will determine which landowners owe the fee and how much is due. The California Board of Equalization (BOE) will then collect the money. In his signing message, the governor wrote he hopes the legislation will generate $50 million this year and as much as $200 million in general fund savings in the future.

The website goldrushcam.com reported the Legislature approved $6.4 million in funding requested for the BOE to create the billing for and to oversee the collection of the fee. The bulk of the funding will be used to pay for 57 new two-year positions.

According to the bill, “individual owners of structures within state responsibility areas receive a disproportionately larger benefit from fire prevention activities than that realized by the state’s citizens generally. It is the intent of the legislature that the economic burden of fire prevention activities that are associated with structures in state responsibility areas shall be equitably distributed among the citizens of the state who generally benefit from those activities and those owners of structures in the state responsibility areas who receive a specific benefit other than that general benefit.”

Really? Unfortunately, not a single penny collected through this fee/tax will go to firefighting operations. All the money collected will go instead to fire prevention measures, which some interpret as simply helping CalFire balance its budget.

When the kettle boils over, residents should not direct their ire at any local county official or the local CalFire brass or firefighters. This scheme originated in Sacramento and is administered entirely by state bureaucrats. No one at the local level played any role in creating, assessing or collecting this fire fee/tax.

Several watchdog groups and government entities plan to file lawsuits over the fire fee/tax once state residents receive the bills.

Since the state Legislature and the governor apparently are unable to move a coherent thought from one ear to the other, we hope those opposing this fee/tax are successful.

The bright lights in Sacramento shouldn’t be allowed to balance CalFire’s budget by robbing the state’s rural landowners, such as those in Plumas County who will be forced to pay this ridiculous fire fee/tax.


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