Letters to the Editor for March 26
Schools thank everyone for their support
The Douglas County School District would like to say, “Thank You” to the students, staff, families, and community for their support and patience during this extremely unique and ever-changing health event. As a district we continue to follow the guidance from State Officials regarding school closures, social distancing, and how we can work together to flatten the curve.
Though schools were ordered closed for three weeks. This closing is being evaluated daily by state officials and if any changes are made, the DCSD will inform our families and community.
We are thankful that the community understands that everyone who works for DCSD has been asked to do their very best to meet the needs of students and families from their own homes. From the moment we asked staff to adjust how they deliver services on a daily basis the outpouring of ideas, support, and effort has been unmatched. Both certified and classified staff have gone above and beyond to pull together materials, help families access online learning, and have found some amazing ways to meet the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of our students.
Though a vast majority of staff are working from home we have skeletal crews making sure families can access Chromebooks, food, medications, and materials. We have staff deep cleaning schools, buses, and district offices in accordance with the Center of Disease Control guideline. It is our priority to make sure that all learning and work environments are clean and ready for staff and students upon their return.
Schools are closed to the public so please call the school’s phone number or the district office. The office will be operational from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but will not be open to the public. Calls will be received at 775-782-5134.
We are committed to supporting our DCSD family as well as yours. Thank you for your vigilance with social distancing and embarking on a new EPIC on-line learning journey with us.
Douglas County School District
Support our local restaurants
In this time of crisis when we all are trying to follow the guidelines to remain safe from the coronavirus, I would like to commend the Carson Valley restaurants. Thanks to their management and dedicated staff, our favorite restaurants are helping us through this difficult time by offering curbside service and special carry-out menus. The restaurant business is not an easy one, and this is certainly a diversion from their usual way of doing business. The special effort being put forth by these folks is greatly appreciated. I urge all Carson Valley residents to support our local restaurants and help them to stay in business, in spite of all the challenges.
Supporting a great principal
Our family wants to recognize the hard work and dedication of our fantastic principal, Mr. Blaine Spires, as well as the wonderful teachers and staff at CC Meneley Elementary School. We must also declare our appreciation to our ever energetic and caring kindergarten teacher, Ms. Kelly McCue. Collectively, the Meneley staff is working tirelessly to engage our kids in distance learning activities during the school closure such as recording read-aloud book sessions, setting up class webpages and video chats, and providing take-home packets stuffed with worksheets, school supplies and snacks for each student. We couldn’t be more in’SPIRE’d by the high level of engagement our school leadership demonstrates! We feel our school is in great hands with Mr. Spires at the helm.
Brianne, Billy, Jemma, and William Wirtanen
Events Center shouldn’t be funded with RDA
I am not necessarily opposed to the Events Center at the Lake, but I am opposed to its funding to a large part through RDA2 money that should be going to other county priorities that are more appropriate uses of taxpayer funds.
It is clear that the South Shore casinos have taken a big hit in the last dozen or so years, but it is not because they are blighted. Instead, they have been significantly affected by the Great Recession, but, more importantly, by the marked increase in gaming establishments throughout the country, particularly by Indian gaming in California, which, undeniably, has had the largest effect. It is overly optimistic to think that droves of people will come to the proposed Tahoe event center mid-week and off-season, and that will somehow bring the South Shore casinos back to their former glory days.
It is also disturbing that the reported cost of the event center seems to go up by $20 million every six months or so. It used to be $60 million, then $80, now it’s somehow $100 million. I guess that’s what happens when you’re spending OPM – other people’s money – in this case Douglas County taxpayer funds, that should be going to county priorities, such as a new Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, road maintenance, or more sheriff’s deputies.
The presentation by the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority to the Board last month indicated that the new $5/night surcharge at Lake lodging will raise $90 million dollars in the next thirty years, more than enough to pay for the entire event center, especially when you add in the TOT and other fees. So why is the county being asked to bond $34+ million for this project? The same report claims that the event center will generate an additional $625 thousand per year for the County, while at the same time, claims that that it will generate $33 to 40 million per year in hotel, restaurant, entertainment and retail in the South Shore area, most of it for the casinos, but much of it for businesses in California. No wonder the TDVA and South Shore Chamber of Commerce support this project, and the substantial funding from Douglas County.
Our taxpayers are essentially being asked to advance more than a third of the cost, but would stand to gain less than 2% of the added revenue in return. That does not seem like a wise return on investment. Rather it seems overly risky for the County. And what are the casinos paying for the event center that will primarily benefit them? Nothing, even though their win this January alone was more than $20 million.
This bond is contrary to the principles of free markets, small government and fiscal responsibility. It would attempt to bail out private business interests, while putting our taxpayers at risk. Commissioners Walsh, Penzel and Rice, yet again, seem willing to support special interests to the detriment of county taxpayers. They seem determined not to give their constituents an opportunity to weigh in on this important issue in November, but rather to pre-empt that by cramming through this bond issue, which is contrary to the public interest.
Walsh representing Douglas well
In addition to their duties on the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, I learned that each commissioner accepts assignments to various other important boards throughout the county. Commissioner Larry Walsh sits on nine boards including the Board of Health, Carson Water Subconservancy District, and Nevada Association of Counties. For NACO, Walsh attends monthly board meetings with members from the other 16 Nevada counties to discuss and act on important federal and state issues that affect Douglas County.
Earlier this month, Walsh attended the annual NACO Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., to learn about issues that are facing other counties throughout the United States. Among other important topics, Walsh attended seminars dealing with such issues as how to optimize intergovernmental partnerships, promote county infrastructure priorities, advance deployment of broadband, and promote workforce opportunities for county residents in changing economies.
While in D.C., Walsh and fellow Commissioner Wes Rice visited Capitol Hill several times to meet with our congressional delegation. They met with the county’s legislative lobbyist firm which is continually monitoring and advocating for all federal legislation that could impact Douglas County. Walsh discussed the status of the 2016 Lake Tahoe Restoration Act that appropriated $415 million to help combat those threats to preserve the pristine nature of Lake Tahoe. Our lobbyist is spearheading a bi-state (Nevada/California) effort to have $9.5 million appropriated under the act for water infrastructure projects in the Tahoe basin. If successful, this appropriation would provide significant money to rebuild the water infrastructure in the Cave Rock community, and bring critical wildfire fighting improvements to these areas.
While meeting with U.S. Sen. Jackie Rosen, who sits on the Senate Transportation Committee, she offered to assist in obtaining the BUILD Grant which Douglas County will submit in May of this year to help fund the all-important Muller Parkway construction. The senator discussed her joint efforts with U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei in working to obtain the $9.6 million appropriation under the Tahoe Restoration Act.
Later, Walsh met with U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and received a briefing on the status of the much anticipated passage of the Douglas County Lands Bill which, if approved, could transfer significant BLM lands within our county under the ownership and control of Douglas County. These lands would be used for recreation and public facilities improvements such as stormwater infrastructure improvements.
Finally, Walsh and Rice met with Amodei and discussed many issues pertinent to Douglas County. Amodei discussed the wild horse issues in the Pinenut Mountains, was very interested in hearing about the construction of Muller Parkway as an alternate route around Minden and Gardnerville and also offered his assistance with the BUILD Grant application. Amodei also discussed strategies with regards to the Lands Bill.
Walsh continually fights for issues affecting Douglas County, which is another reason why I support him in his re-election bid to the Douglas County Commission. Please visit http://www.walshfordc.com and support Larry’s efforts.
Issues with Tarkanian’s comments
I have to take issue with Danny Tarkanian’s latest comments that the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners is dysfunctional. The board is not dysfunctional. Rather, there are deep policy differences between the two factions on the board. Take housing development for example. There are three members on the board (Rice, Penzel and Walsh) that have never seen a housing development that they didn’t like. Even though we have 4,500 homes already approved for construction, Rice, Penzel and Walsh recently approved the rezoning of Park LLC land on Buckeye Road for 2,500 homes against overwhelming community opposition. Nelson and Engels listened to the community and voted against this project and want to adhere to a modest growth policy given that we already have 4,500 homes already approved. This is a policy disagreement. Or take the issue of RD2 and the Event Center at South Lake. Rice, Penzel and Walsh voted for RDA 2 which will take an estimated $110 million in property taxes from Douglas County and give it to RDA 2 in South Lake to build an Event Center and “improvements” for millionaires and the casinos. Nelson and Engels think the $110 million in property taxes from RDA 2 should go to Douglas County for law enforcement, roads and schools. Again, this is a policy disagreement.
All businesses are essential
Our governor now fancies himself a dictator who decides which businesses are “essential” and can remain open. Hate to break it to you, sir, but all businesses are essential to the owners and employees. More concerning to me is how easily we give up our freedoms for the illusion of safety as provided by authorities. It is my contention that we are doing more damage to the country by our response (panic) than this virus could ever do. This will pass, as all viral outbreaks do, but what about next time? Will we have to go through this again? The seasonal flu will be back and it can be deadly too. Let’s try to keep a sense of proportion here. We survive viruses all the time without turning the country upside down.
Where’s the buck stop?
On the desk of Harry S. Truman, stood a solitary sign, “The Buck Stops Here!”; recognition by the 33rd president of the United States that along with the honor of occupying the Oval Office comes the enormous burden of tending to the welfare of hundreds of millions of constituents. Contrast, if you please, the response of the current resident of the White House who, when asked if he takes any responsibility for the lag in coronavirus testing replied, “I don’t take any responsibility at all”! This should not come as a surprise to anyone following the inane public utterances of this man; consider for instance, his painfully egocentric remarks during a recent visit to the Centers for Disease Control:
“I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.
“But as of right now and yesterday (?), anybody that needs a test can get a test … that’s the important thing … and the tests are all perfect, like the letter (phone call?) was perfect. The transcription was perfect, right? This was not as perfect as that, but pretty good.
“You know, my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT. He taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius. Dr. John Trump.”
Then there’s, “I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.” I wonder, is it possible he’s confusing these sudden bursts of intestinal enlightenment with the embarrassing gastrointestinal occurrence that affects us all at one time or another(?)
Stop listening to Dr. Trump
I don’t understand where some of your readers get their information on the virus. Trump who said he knew more than the doctors has failed in his response to the pandemic. In the transition from Obama to the Trump administration, in meetings Trump was advised on three issues he needed to pay attention to in his administration. One of the issues was a pandemic. Soon after he took over he did away with the pandemic experts of the CDC. We got caught flat footed. Early on he referred to the virus as a “hoax” so much for that assessment.
He also said there were only 15 cases in the U.S. and it was going to get better, now at 10,000 and gaining. Trump said it was well under control and would go away like a miracle, “it will go away when the weather gets better.” He does not listen to his experts. How about there will be a vaccination in a couple of months, FDA says it will take 12-18 months to develop a vaccination. He promised test kits for everyone and we are still waiting; try to get a test here in Douglas County. Unless you are a professional basketball player you are out of luck.
And now he wants to bail out the cruise industry. The cruise ships sail under foreign flags, none of their employees are U.S. citizens or pay taxes to the IRS. We might as well bail out the Russian vodka industry.
He needs to step away from the podium and let the experts make the call and inform the public.