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By Eric Johnson
Published Nov 13, 2023

Image credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Fighting & Working for Democracy

I write this as Veterans Day weekend draws to a close, and I want to call your attention to a vets’ organization that is doing important work. The nonprofit We the Veterans and Military Families has set the following goal as its mission: “Strengthening our democracy and ensuring misinformation and polarization don’t continue to tear at the fabric of our union.”

This group of former members of the armed forces, and their spouses and children, have been working in recent years to dispel the false myth that those who serve in the military tend toward extremist views—a myth that grew in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at our nation’s Capitol. They point to a study that shows support for extremist ideologies among veterans is far lower than what is found in representative surveys of the general public.

We the Veterans, which recruits vets to serve as local poll workers, is passionately committed to democracy, and stands ready to defend every American’s right to vote, as its leadership noted in a recent op-ed: “Generations of American servicemen and women, supported by their families at home, have shed their blood on foreign battlefields to defend that fundamental right.”

Learn more about We the Veterans here. I applaud them for their continued service.

A Lot of Politics Is Local

On a visit to Santa Cruz a couple Saturdays ago, I got to participate in a great American democratic tradition—a political fundraiser. This one took place at the home of Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley, and was held on behalf of Robert Rivas (D–Hollister), the speaker of the California Assembly.

I realize that most Californians have not had the opportunity to attend such an event, and that may account for the prevalence of the mistaken view that elected officials are by and large corrupt. Over a career of covering local electeds, I have come to believe that most of the people who choose a life of public service are some of our best.

The individuals who took turns speaking on Fred and Barbara’s porch, addressing a smallish crowd of small-money donors in their front yard, proved that point.

Rivas himself is proud to have been raised by farmworkers, and has been working to help his community since first being elected to the local city council when he was in his twenties. As I have noted here previously, he leads what he accurately refers to as “an assembly that is the most diverse in California’s history, and among the most diverse legislative bodies in the world.”

Fred also introduced two recently elected assembly members, Dawn Addis and Gail Pellerin. Addis is a former longtime schoolteacher, who now represents a district that spans a big chunk of the California coast. Pellerin served as Santa Cruz County Clerk for 27 years—as you may know from recent news out of Georgia and elsewhere, the county clerk is the person responsible for guaranteeing that every citizen’s vote is counted.

Speaking of democracy: Election season 2024 is now officially underway, and my colleague Sharan Street here presents some highlights of what is to come.

One Citizen, One Vote

Voters have many decisions to weigh before March 5.
A year from now we’ll be choosing the next U.S. president. But there are many important decisions to be made before then. Now’s the time to start getting ready for the March 5 primary.

Building Democracy in the Golden State

If you feel in your bones that California is among the most democratic states in the nation, you are correct. I speak here not of the Democratic Party, but of what we wonks call “small ‘d’ democratic” politics—a system that ensures that we are a self-governing state. In this excerpt from our upcoming book, How California Works, Jon Vankin briefly explains how that happy fact came to be.

People Power! What Is Democracy, and How Does It Work in California?

Translated from the Greek, “Democracy” means “people power.” How much power do the people have in California?
Democracy is a 2,500-year-old system of government still looked on today as the best system, because under a democratic system, the people govern themselves. But is that all there is to it? What is democracy? And how does it work in California?

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Golden Empire Council logo Golden Empire Council

The Golden Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America pursues the mission of this national organization to “instill values in young people and prepare them to make ethical choices during their lifetimes, to take leadership roles as adults, and to reach their full potential.”

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From Our Media Allies

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Auburn Journal logo Placer Supervisors Approve New Alignment for Planned Hidden Falls Trail

The new alignment will reroute a trail open space parcel adjacent to Hidden Falls Regional Park in North Auburn, helping connect the park with the Placer Land Trust’s trail networks at Taylor Ranch and Kotomyan Preserve.

Sierra Sun logo Climate Profile: Hunter Holman

Welcome to the Climate Profile, a feature by the North Tahoe chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, which explores the stories of local citizens and how climate change has affected their lives.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Lake Tahoe Lakers Under New Management

The Lake Tahoe Lakers, part of a league composed of more than 70 teams across the country, are under new management with a fresh roster of team players.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Palisades Tahoe Team Member Dies After Snowmobile Accident

Homewood resident Brian Gimbert was pronounced dead at an area hospital after a collision involving a snowmobile on Nov. 9.

Lincoln News Messenger logo Sotherton Tea Room Opens Its Doors in Lincoln

Those seeking an upscale afternoon tea experience are in luck now that Sotherton Tea Room has officially opened. “We are a formal tea room,” says owner Elaine Mueller.

The Roseville Press Tribune logo RJUHSD First in Placer County to Receive Electric Bus Fleet

The Roseville Joint Union High School District will receive the first Type-D electric school buses in Placer County. Two of a total of 18 buses have already arrived.

Placer Herald logo New Exhibit on Rocklin's Once Flourishing Ag Industry Opens

“Rocklin’s Ranches,” an exhibit highlighting the stories of the first ranchers and farmers, will be open through January at the Rocklin History Museum.

Granite Bay Mirror logo CHP Celebrates Graduation of 112 New Officers

The ceremony at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento on Nov. 3 is the culmination of more than six months of rigorous training.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Liberty Utilities Working to Prevent Wildfires Through Mitigation Efforts

In an effort to manage wildfire hazards and upgrade systems to safety standards, Liberty Utilities has unveiled its Wildfire Mitigation and Vegetation Management Plan in the Tahoe/Sierra region.

Placer Herald logo Wreaths Across America Seeks to ID Unmarked Veterans’ Graves in Newcastle Cemetery District

Most graves are identified by their headstones or records, but there are others that remain unknown.

Auburn Journal logo Auburn City Council to Discuss Cannabis Policies in Near Future

A resident introduced the topic at the Oct. 23 council meeting and two members said they would be interested in more information.

Sierra Sun logo Placer Board Approves County Parking Ordinance Amendment

The Placer County Board of Supervisors amended the county's parking ordinance to strengthen existing parking enforcement and increase fines countywide.

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Recent Local News

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• Placer SPCA in Roseville Hosts 50th Anniversary Open House

On Dec. 11, Placer SPCA will open its doors for a festive Holiday Open House at the Placer SPCA Adoption and Education Center in Roseville.

(11/06/2023) → Roseville Today
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Recent Statewide News

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• It's About to Get Easier for California College Students to Study in Their Own Language

Assembly Bill 1096, taking effect Jan. 1, will let community colleges in the state provide courses in non-English languages, regardless if a student is also taking ESL. Previously, a student had to sign up for the latter to qualify for the former.

(11/13/2023) → KQED

• Barbara Lee’s Lagging Senate Bid Doesn’t Equal Another House Term

Longtime Rep. Barbara Lee trails fellow representative Katie Porter and former Rep. Adam Schiff in their race for U.S. Senate. Lee still expressed determination to not seek a 14th term in the House, saying she’s running for Senate.

(11/13/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Community College Enrollment Rebounding Post-Pandemic, and Students Over 50 Are a Big Reason Why

California’s community colleges are seeing enrollment gains for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Older students—those over 50—are some of the first to return.

(11/12/2023) → CalMatters

• Tree Climbers Are Helping Replant California’s Forests

More than 1.5 million acres of forest have been burned or scarred in California. Climbers go high in trees to grab pine cones that could help in reforestation.

(11/09/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• A California Ranch Gets Nearly as Much Water as the Arizona City of Scottsdale

The Elmore Desert Ranch gets 22.5 billion gallons of water from the Colorado River, almost as much as is cleared for Scottsdale, Ariz. And that’s just a fraction of the 386.5 billion gallons from the river going to 19 other families in Imperial Valley.

(11/09/2023) → ProPublica

• That Wasn’t Aurora Borealis in the California Skies, But Something Else Unusual

A photographer captured a Stable Aurora Red, or SAR arc light display, on Nov. 5 in California. These displays are generally imperceptible to the human eye.

(11/08/2023) → SFGate

• UCLA Report: Young California Workers Face Challenges

A new report by the UCLA Labor Center finds that young workers in California face a variety of challenges. These include pay barely above minimum wage, discrimination, and high rents.

(11/08/2023) → LAist

• California’s Young Workers Are Essential to the Economy. Why are They Stuck in Low Wage Jobs?

Young people are stuck earning low wages, working long hours—often while going to school—and often without benefits or work protections. Their hardships may hamper the state’s economy for years to come, researchers say.

(11/08/2023) → CalMatters

• Capitol Gets its First Monument to California’s Indigenous Population

A statue of Miwok elder William J. Franklin has been installed on California State Capitol grounds. The monument replaces a statue of Father Junípero Serra, which protestors toppled in 2020.

(11/07/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Nearly One-Third of California Prisons Provide Inadequate Medical Care

An evaluation of 34 adult prisons in California by the Office of the Inspector General found that 11 provided inadequate medical care and 23 provided adequate care. None were deemed proficient, the top designation.

(11/07/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• UC Irvine-Led Science Team Shows How to Eat Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

In a study published in Nature Sustainability, scientists assessed the potential for wide-scale synthetic production of dietary fats. The raw materials are the same as those used by plants: hydrogen in water and carbon dioxide in the air.

(11/06/2023) → YubaNet

• A Proposed Development Might Threaten California’s Oldest Tree

A shrubby Palmer oak tree in Riverside County is around 13,000 years old, making it California’s oldest tree and one of the longest-lived organisms on earth. Some people are concerned that a proposed development could threaten the tree.

(11/06/2023) → Los Angeles Times
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Government Announcements

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Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/09/2023)
Supervisors approves cost-saving new alignment for planned Hidden Falls trail
The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a new alignment for a planned trail project at Hidden Falls Regional Park in North Auburn, resulting in significant cost savings.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/09/2023)
Volunteer spotlight: Leslie Halla's dog followup calls
Leslie Halla has made nearly 400 calls a year to dog adopters to check in, offer resources, and hopefully prevent unsuccessful adoptions.
Image of City of Lincoln seal. City of Lincoln   (11/09/2023)
City Offices Closed for Veterans Day
All City offices will be closed on Friday, November 10th in observance of Veterans Day. City offices will reopen at their regularly scheduled time on Monday, November 13th. Garbage and green waste...
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/08/2023)
Fish & Game grant deadline extended
The Placer County Fish and Game Commission's grant program's application period has been extended to Dec. 4.
Image of City of Auburn seal. City of Auburn   (11/08/2023)
View the latest City Council agenda here
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/07/2023)
Fuel load reduction underway in North Lake Tahoe
Protecting neighboring homes, businesses, open spaces and forests from wildfire is among our highest priorities. See how our crews are working to reduce fuel loads while promoting forest health maintenance around North Lake Tahoe.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/06/2023)
Placer County is seeking a planning commissioner for District 2
Placer County is looking to fill a vacancy for the District 2 Planning Commission seat. Candidates must live in District 2, which includes Lincoln, Sheridan and West Roseville.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/02/2023)
Board approves county parking ordinance amendment and updates fine amounts
The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday amended the county’s parking ordinance to strengthen existing parking enforcement and increase countywide parking fine amounts. The changes go into effect Nov. 30.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/02/2023)
Board of Supervisors approve Tahoe Basin Area Plan amendments
Seeking to generate economic investment and spur environmentally-beneficial redevelopment in North Lake Tahoe, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a set of amendments that would allow revisions to the 2017 Tahoe Basin Area Plan.
Image of County of Placer seal. County of Placer   (11/02/2023)
Holiday donation opportunities offer opportunity to support foster children, families and animals in
As the season of giving begins, Placer County Health and Human Services is highlighting a few opportunities to support local children and others in need.
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo City of Rocklin / Rocklin City Council Meeting
Tuesday November 14 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Rocklin / Community Recognition Commission
Wednesday November 15 2023   4:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Roseville City Council Meetings
Wednesday November 15 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / Traffic Committee
Tuesday November 21 2023   8:30 AM