To screw up requires a computer
“To err is human.” To really screw up, one needs a computer. That’s been my thought for quite a while. Anyone can post anything on the Internet whether it’s true or not. Newspapers can print anything whether it’s true or not (even from a reliable source), just to sell papers (with maybe the exception of The Record-Courier).
When I used to complain about politics, people would say: Well, you can vote and change things if you’re not happy. But is that still true? I think not. Even if I vote, will it be counted; or will my ballot be assigned to a round file and replaced by a corpse’s ballot? Now with mail-in balloting and computers, it’s easier than ever to corrupt our voting process.
I’m in the last lap of my life and I’ve been wondering if there’s anyone out there who feels the lack of control I feel now. Feeling a lack of control in one’s life is known to cause mental illness. May be a contributor to mass shootings!
We’ve created a mind set where our politicians are allowed to vote their own pay raises, retirement benefits (they receive retirement from every office to which they’ve been elected) and are not held accountable to their campaign promises. Shameful!
Is there any hope? Maybe hope that our grandkids will find a way to fix the problem. But is that realistic? Should we foist all this onto them? Quite a legacy we’re leaving behind!
Another problem I’ve noticed. Computers have created another type of criminal. Someone who wouldn’t dream of taking a gun and holding you up, will steal from you with a computer. Guess there’s a difference.
Have a dear friend (we met in first grade and we’re still in touch) who doesn’t have a computer. I’ve told her I envy her. She doesn’t understand (maybe I’ll send her this letter).
M. A. Richardson
Windfall act must go
There are a number of retired police and fire personnel here in the Carson Valley area that might have expected to receive their full Social Security payment once they reached the age where they could apply for benefits, only to realize that there was something called the Windfall Elimination Act that passed in 1984. This cut the amount that many receive by over half, despite the fact that they worked extra jobs to qualify for Social Security. The reason for this is that they receive a public pension from their service in law enforcement or fire.
There is now a bill before Congress that would repeal the WPA, HR 82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023. It currently has 292 co-sponsors (200 Democrats and 94 Republicans). But our Representative Mark Amodei is not one of them. Please contact Rep Amodei and ask that he sign on to this bill.
Newsletter doesn’t replace public comment
There was a glimmer of hope at the school board meeting Tuesday night when President Jansen made an effort to create positive community connections with a monthly/bi-monthly newsletter. But it was insincere. The board had an opportunity to listen to public comment and delay on suspending language in policies to build trust and positive relations. They clearly chose not to do so!! Even though legal advice and the discussions showed clear confusion and a need for future analysis, they chose not to do so! There was a perfectly good opportunity to build some cooperation tonight that she and her coalition completely ignored. This reinforces a perceived pattern that Jansen, Burns, Dickerson, and Englekirk preplan actions and have their minds made up on votes before open meetings are held making public comment meaningless.
The important facts are:
1. legal counsel stated multiple times that these provisions were not illegal.
2. if the motion to suspend failed this month, it could be reconsidered next month when there was greater understanding by all board members and the public
3. if the motion to suspend failed, the existing provisions would be eliminated in 30 days when the second reading took place and was passed by the Jansen Coalition.
This was not an oversight or something that happened quickly and “slipped through.” No! There was over five hours of discussion, mostly public comment on this motion to suspend.
Wouldn’t 30 days have been a reasonable price to pay for a sincere effort to build agreement and cooperation. It appears Jansen and others do not come with any interest in cooperating and building a working board that can serve our students. Their agenda is not service.
What is also interesting about the motion to suspend is that it left the board without knowledge of how they were to operate for the next period. The motion was to suspend specific wording that had been “added” by prior boards in five board meetings. It was unclear whether there was also wording that was removed at the same five instances. Although the legal counsel inferred that the remaining language, after suspension, represented the bylaws in existence “before” this addition, this could not be verified. It could not be verified because versions of the bylaws prior to change were not available at this meeting and had not been included in the packets prepared for board members. We still do not know whether there was language added and language removed. There is incomplete knowledge of what the by-laws now say.
I also want to admonish members of the public who speak and intentionally mislead. During public comment an individual inferred that an employee had been improperly vetted, suggesting the prospective hire was investigated for an “alleged” crime. By the end of his comments the prospective hire was “a criminal.” In our judicial system, an individual is innocent until proven guilty. The speaker knows an individual is not a criminal because they have been accused of a crime.
Shocked at behavior
My husband and I are retired Douglas County teachers with 67 years of combined years teaching elementary students. I attended the most recent board meeting at the high school and was shocked by what I witnessed. The behaviors I witnessed both by some board members and some of the public in attendance were disrespectful and unprofessional to say the least. Both my husband and I have attended board meetings in the past, none of which displayed these types of negative and unproductive actions that disrupted the purpose for these meetings. It has always been our understanding that the board’s primary mission and purpose was to provide support of the administration and staffs of the district and to oversee their actions to insure the educational success of the students. However, it was evident that other issues rather than the improvement of the education of our students were allowed to dominate the discussions and actions of the Board.
The two items that dominated this last meeting were the board’s newly hired attorney and his expenses and the proposed changes to the board’s policies and bylaws. Both of these are important items that should have been discussed and acted upon by the board, but the time that was spent on them so dominated the meeting that other items more closely related to the education of our students did not receive proper attention by the board.
It is also evident by the proposed changes to board policy and bylaws that some members of this board wish to lessen the Superintendent’s ability to perform important aspects of his job and to increase the power of the board to determine district policy and procedures. We know Superintendent Keith Lewis well because we taught with him. He has risen to his position from the ground up and has distinguished himself as a teacher, coach, principal, and district administrator. His commitment to the students and staff of this district has been demonstrated by him at every position that he has had. He had the unenviable task of guiding the district through the pandemic when state and national mandates required school closures, distant learning, restructuring of classrooms, mandatory mask wearing, and all of the other educational disruptions caused by the disease. He could have taken the easy way out and retired early, but instead remained to assist students and staff through that difficult time. We have never known him to be unprofessional, disrespectful, or dishonest and has always shown that his main priority has been the welfare of the students and staff. And yet, some of the Board members are proceeding to either force him to resign by drastically changing the nature of his position.
It is our hope that the Board will change course and redirect itself to proceed from here focused on its true purpose which is to work with the district’s professional educators to improve the education of our students and to assure the parents that their children will continue to receive the high quality of education that this district has always produced.
Concerns about Gilbert contract
Based on the information provided, it appears that there are several concerns and discrepancies regarding the validity and approval of the Joey Gilbert contract. The contract was never approved by the Douglas County School Board, which raises questions about its legitimacy. Additionally, there were multiple contract drafts among board members, and one draft even removed the Superintendent’s signature line potentially violating Nevada State law.
Furthermore, the decision to pay Joey Gilbert’s $35,000 bill was made in a 5-2 vote just before midnight, despite the contract not being approved by the Board. Gilbert’s fees are substantially higher than the previous law firm that had served the district for 20 years, in spite of the fact that Gilbert has no experience in education law. This raises concerns about the District’s justication for hiring Gilbert and the potential impact on the District’s budget.
The question of where additional funds for legal services will come from is raised suggesting that it will potentially impact other areas such as curriculum, teacher’s salaries or property taxes. The concerns raised in this statement suggest that further investigation and clarification is needed to determine the validity and implications for the Joey Gilbert contract.
Great volunteer fire dinner
Fish Springs/Gardnerville VFD held their annual Spaghetti Dinner Dance fundraiser on the September 9th. We thought we were in trouble with thunderstorms looming over the Pine Nuts but it cleared up just before we got the event going.
It was a very successful for us and we can’t thank the businesses that contributed to our raffle and auction enough. They come through for us every year. Of course, we also thank the entire community that turned out to show their support for our volunteer departments.
Our mission is to support the staff firefighters with water supply, on scene help at structure fires and wildland response. We appreciate your continuing support.
Elaine A. B. Pace
Fish Springs/Gardnerville VFD Station Manager
Plastics recycling complicated
I’ve been bringing trash and recycling to the Douglas County Transfer Station ever since the pandemic. Sorted through all of the plastics and felt good about doing it. I dumped them into containers and thought everything would get reused and recycled. Then I started to research what happens to plastics and recyclables and became very disheartened.
The reality of plastic recycling is far more complex and less optimistic than what I imagined. While I initially believed that my efforts to separate and recycle plastics made a significant difference, research tells a different story.
One of the most significant issues in plastic recycling is the limited number of plastics that are actually recycled. Many plastics, especially those labeled with numbers 3, 6, and 7, are not accepted for recycling in most facilities. This means that despite our best intentions, a considerable portion of plastics that we diligently sort and deposit into recycling bins end up being incinerated or sent to landfills because they cannot be effectively used.
Moreover, even some plastics that are collected for recycling face challenges in the recycling process. Contamination, such as food residue or non-recyclable materials mixed in with plastics, can render entire batches unrecyclable. The economics of recycling plastics are also a problem. Recycled plastics cost more to produce than new plastics, and with the growth of petrochemical companies (the ones that make plastics) that cost gap grows every year.
Recycled plastics also face the added issue of “downcycling ” which refers to the natural phenomenon of degradation of recycled plastics. Plastics naturally degrade every time they are recycled into something new. So there is a limited number of times a thing can be recycled even if it jumps through all of the proper hoops.
But I don’t think this means we need to loose hope and throw away everything in the trash. Instead, this should be an opportunity for improvement and reflection. We have to advocate for better recycling infrastructure, increased public awareness on the realities of recycling and stronger support for the development of new recycling technologies. Let people know the easiest plastics to recycle are labeled 1 and 2.
As consumers we can reduce our plastic consumption by choosing reusable alternatives, like using paper bags at the grocery store, or bringing your own bags. We can lobby for better labeling and more straightforward recycling guidelines to make a difference in reducing contamination in recycling streams.
I hope that by addressing these issues head-on and collectively advocating for change, we can improve the recycling system and make a positive impact on our environment. Recycling remains an essential part of reducing our ecological footprint, and it’s up to us to ensure that our efforts are as effective as possible.
Remember to recycle your 1s & 2s.