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A staslide23te lawmaker wants to reduce the number of unwanted animals in local shelters by requiring California pet owners to spay or neuter their dogs and cats. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, is carrying legislation that would require dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered by four months of age, otherwise their owners could face potentially steep fines. "It's a huge problem," Levine said. "My legislation will help by turning off the spigot so to speak. It will help reduce the number of animals going in (shelters) by reducing the number of animals that are breeding," he said." Called the "California Healthy Pets Act,"
slide8The Central Valley Region Water Quality Board has notified the City of Ione through a correspondence dated February 20th that the City's submission of their waste water discharge report required under a cease and desist order from the state agency is incomplete. The Regional Board's environmental scientist Scott Kranhold writes to the city that there are 15 items of concern to the Regional Board that the city must respond to in a revised Report of Waste Discharge, however, according to one local waste water official the letter is more routine than a surprise. According to the letter the City must notify Regional Board Staff by March 15th when they will have a new report completed. Also, the city is required to report how the city plans to process waste water for new construction in the city that the Regional Staff expresses concern over in the February 20th document. State staff is concerned that the growth in the city will cause the Waste Water Treatment Plant to exceed its treatment and disposal capacity before the environmental review, permitting, and construction can be completed on improvements to the city's waste water system.
slide16According to a federal appeals court ruling issued Friday, Indian tribes are indeed subject to federal labor law. This case, according to labor experts could now lead to stricter labor protections - and more unions - at the nation's booming Indian casinos. According to the AP, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected arguments from a wealthy Southern California tribe that as a sovereign government, it should not be subject to those laws. "Tribal sovereignty is not absolute autonomy, permitting a tribe to operate in a commercial capacity without legal constraint," said the opinion written by Judge Janice Rogers Brown. The ruling stemmed from an organizing dispute at a casino run by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, where a union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board arguing that another union was getting preferential access.
Thursday, 01 February 2007 02:17

Killer Whales Off Course, Why?

thumb_slide19 A group of killer whales has been caught on camera cruising up and down the Northern California coast, traveling unusually far from their feeding grounds, scientists said. Photos taken last week show about a dozen killer whales in two family-group pods swimming off Half Moon Bay. It's a rare sight off the Central California coast -- but why they're here is even more unusual. Killer whales, or orcas, have been seen in this area less than a half dozen times in the past seven years. And when they were here, they were seen feeding on elephant seals. This time, they're after another prey. "These killer whales may actually have followed the Sacramento run of Chinook salmon from the Pacific Northwest down here," said Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. The killer whales in prior visits were just passing through. Biologists said these whales have been positively identified as ones that normally make their home in Washington's Puget Sound.

slide18As Amador County Education Officials approve their Local Education Agency Plan to meet the federal government’s No Child Left Behind mandates, California State Officials are preparing to battle the feds over the 2002 Educational Initiative. California State Department of Education Officials are hoping Congress will consider the state’s concerns about the federal law, concerns which center around the basic question of how to effectively evaluate the progress of students.
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 01:00

Another Big Earthquake? Absolutely

slide21.jpgCalifornia is virtually assured of experiencing one or more potentially damaging earthquakes by 2037, scientists said Monday in the first statewide temblor forecast. New estimates show there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger will strike the nation's most populous state in the next 30 years. "It basically guarantees it's going to happen," said Ned Field, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and lead author of the report. The 1994 Northridge earthquake under Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley was magnitude 6.7. It killed 72 people, injured more than 9,000 and caused $25 billion in damage in the metropolitan area. California is one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

More than 300 faults crisscross the state, which sits atop two of Earth's major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. About 10,000 quakes each year rattle Northern California alone, although most of them are too small to be felt. Despite the new probabilities, scientists cannot predict exactly where in the state such a quake will occur or when. The uncertainty could make a difference in loss of lives and damage. Nonetheless, scientists say the analysis should be a wake-up call for residents to prepare for a natural disaster in earthquake country. The latest analysis is the first comprehensive effort by the USGS, SCEC and California Geological Survey to calculate earthquake probabilities for the entire state using newly available data. Previous quake probabilities focused on specific regions and used various methodologies that made it difficult to compare data.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008 00:49

Schwarzenegger’s Prison Health Plan

slide24.jpgGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday asked state lawmakers to approve $6 billion to build new prison medical and mental health centers to care for 10,000 inmates. He is also seeking another $1 billion to upgrade existing prison health care facilities. This could be big news for local prisons like Mule Creek near Ione, which has been suffering under the weight of statewide budget cuts and a recent influenza outbreak. The request, included in a letter to the Legislature's budget committee chairs, is the first time officials have said how much it will cost state taxpayers to improve a prison medical system so poor that it has been ruled unconstitutional. Schwarzenegger's finance director, Michael Genest, said in the letter that the court-appointed federal receiver, J. Clark Kelso, intends to spend $2.5 billion of the borrowed money during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

slide25.jpgIt would go to start building six or seven long-term care facilities outside existing state prisons or on state-owned land. Each of the facilities would serve up to 1,500 inmates. Construction would begin in January and the facilities would be completed by mid-2013 under Kelso's plan. Most of the $7 billion Schwarzenegger is requesting would be borrowed, but $100 million would come from the state's general fund. The governor agrees with Kelso that even as the state struggles with a massive budget deficit, the new spending is necessary "after decades of neglect, (to) get the level of care at the state's correctional system up to a constitutional level of care." U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco seized control of the state's prison health care system two years ago, saying medical care for California's 170,000 inmates was so bad that an average of one inmate each week was dying of neglect or malpractice. Schwarzenegger also has proposed releasing more than 22,000 inmates and eliminating about 4,500 prison guard positions as a budget-cutting move. State senators plan a hearing Monday on how those proposals affect the prison and jail building program the Legislature approved last year. Administration officials said Friday it is too soon to know.

Wednesday, 09 April 2008 00:56

CalTrans Ceremony At The Capitol

slide20.jpgYesterday, the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, held a ceremony at the State Capitol honoring Caltrans employees who have died in the line of duty since 1924, including three who died in 2007.  Caltrans workers from Amador County were present. Caltrans observed its  Annual Workers Memorial in conjunction with the National Work Zone  Awareness  Week kick-off on the west steps of the State Capitol.


The ceremony honored the 170 Caltrans employees  who  have  died  in  the line of duty since 1924, as well as all roadway work zone deaths nationwide. This year the Sacramento memorial marks the  first  time  in history that the national kick-off event is held anywhere outside the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. “Today  we  honor  the  great  sacrifices  that  highway  workers  made and recognize the tremendous loss that their family and friends suffered,” said Caltrans  Director  Will  Kempton. “Everyday they put their lives in danger just by going  to work.” The ceremony included the release of doves, a bagpiper and vehicle wreckage from which an employee narrowly escaped. The Caltrans Honor Guard performed a special tribute for the workers lost nationwide and dedicated a wreath to those killed in 2007. Top leaders in transportation from the state and federal governments, as well as theIndustry, were also in attendance.  
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 02:22

Board Of Supes Approve Job/Housing Grant

slide16.jpgThe Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution for funding that could potentially assist many people throughout Amador County. Larry Busby of the Central Sierra Planning Council and Karen Glaze of Motherlode Job Training each fielded questions from the Board concerning funding from the State’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The money received will be designated for two purposes: job training and a first-time homebuyers program, both for Amador residents of low income who qualify. 500,000 dollars was applied for first time homebuyers and 340,000 dollars was requested for job training.

slide18.jpgSupervisor Richard Forster questioned Glaze on why she had only requested 340,000 for job training, considering that the request could have been up to half a million. Glaze said the reason was two-fold: the Motherlode Jobs staff is limited and can only work with a particular budget, and because the State was more likely to consider requests within realistic budgetary limits. “I would have been happy to request maximum amount, but I wanted ours to be reasonable and competitive with the other counties. Amador County’s unemployment has not taken as big a hit as other areas of the state,” said Glaze. The Board praised Karen’s work so far. The job training portion of the plan is intended to serve up to 77 people over a two year period. Further information about he grant will be available to the public shortly.

slide41As of July 1st Californians pay more California Refund Value (CRV) on beverage containers at the store.  Assembly Bill (AB) 3056 raised the CRV that consumers pay for aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers.  Consumers pay a nickel for containers less than 24 ounces and a dime for containers larger than 24 ounces.  Prior to July 1, 2007 the charge at the store for containers, 24 oz and less and 24 oz and greater, was 4 cents and 8 cents respectively.  However, consumers will continue to receive 5 cents on smaller containers and 10 cents on larger ones at the recycling buy-back centers.