Although the number of “on scene survivors” and their accounts of what happened that day are rapidly dwindling, December 7th, 1941 irrevocably changed the lives of countless millions of people and will likely remain one of the foremost examples of the horrendous cost of war.
MOST EVERY FAMILY AFFECTED SOMEWAY
Mom was a teenager and quite cognizant of the realities of World War II and kept a scrap book of news articles, reports and photographs. One of her brothers was a Marine engaged in front line combat and still carries shrapnel in his neck from a near death experience on an island beach. Another one of her brothers served on the Navy destroyer USS Missouri also in the Pacific. Numerous friends were spread across the globe in other areas of turmoil in addition to Europe. As a young girl in California she lived with the ever present danger of potential invasion on the west coast. During the Summer from high school she helped out at the mud baths, hot springs, and mineral pools in Calistoga (Napa Valley) where injured soldiers were treated for their wounds and amputations (evidently the heat assisted in healing and extracting imbeded shrapnel). Her future husband, my Father, had enlisted in the Army Air Corps and ultimately became a bomber pilot in the Air Force also serving in the Pacific. Dad made a 33 year career in the US Air Force as did my brother who served over 20 years.
GREW UP AROUND DAD’S MILITARY SERVICE
Most of my adolescent life was spent on or very near military bases providing the opportunity of meeting many different people involved with various aspects of national defense in both military and civilian capacities. During the cold war era (Cuba situation) Mom was actually required to drive my brother and I on an escape route from Castle Air Force base up here into the foothills under the theory of avoiding potential radiation exposure if Castle were hit with a nuclear weapon. I currently look down at the old Castle air base remembering Dad shooting “touch and goes” in a KC-135 (Air refueling 4 engine jet aircraft) from the Fox Road vantage point at the end of the runway – even saw my brother decades later land and take off in a T-38 (jet training aircraft- he was a flight instructor like Dad and eventually ended up piloting the C-141 Star Lifter cargo aircraft which was later replaced with the C-17.) I vividly recall visiting and playing outside with other kids at “alert facilities” near base runways during different holidays when Dad was on alert.
A friend and co-worker of my Dad’s in Grand Forks North Dakota was a POW in Europe and relayed to me his stories of being transported by railroad car through numerous cities and towns in route to his ultimate confinement. His description of brutal situations soften with accounts of compassion displayed by indigenous people remain in my memories. Woodworking became this man’s personal relaxation hobby technique and I still possess a handmade cabinet he created in his garage 45 years ago and the thought of refinishing it is unconscionable. The scratches and scrapes only document it’s history of travel and are as important to me as the furniture itself.
I remember the noise of B-52 engines roaring outside our base housing only indicated to me that another episode of Gun Smoke with James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillion was about to begin.
Sure is interesting how the “old shows” could tell a gripping story within an hour – often culminating in a bloodless fatal shooting, but still be quite dramatic. Remember those? The victim would grasp their chest with one or both hands, make a quick parting comment, then collapse without even the slightest evidence of blood loss – yet now, gallons of blood and remnants of internal organs are Hollywood splattered across a wall just to illustrate the reality of a violent death.
While living in Taiwan for two years we could see the C-130s and other aircraft taking off to, and returning from, in-country missions to Vietnam and heard the stories of near misses by surface to air missiles and harrowing landings in remote areas. That was indeed a lifetime ago and although the type of warfare was different from today’s “war on terrorism”, all of it is destructive, horrific, and painful to those even remotely involved.
In light of the recent discoveries of possible habitable planets in space and man’s violent past, it begs the question: will humans eventually end up in some kind of war with another species like on Sci-Fi afternoon television shows? I’d be willing to bet money, marbles, or chalk that a malicious deep space enemy sure would unite humanity on this little rotating and revolving blue marble in space. Nothing like a common foe to put things in perspective – huh?
Sorry, I digress. I guess this is the sort of stuff that belongs in a private journal so suffice it to say today marks yet another day of remembrance to those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl.
THE NOVEMBER 21st, 2011 BOARD MEETING
The initial meeting opened at 0905hrs with a full board consisting of Vice President Bill Kinsella and Directors Emery Ross, Mark Skoien, Victor Afanasiev and yours truly. Interim General Manager Dan Tynan and Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator Charise Reeves were also present. The meeting jumped from Public to Closed Session during the continuing Personnel Grievance process initiated by the Board Secretary/Treasurer/Financial Administrator against the Interim General Manager. Again, with the sincere hope of a satisfactory resolution to this matter (both parties have agreed to meet with a mediator) I will not get into the literal “she said” – “he said” particulars of the situation.
PERSONNEL PROBLEMS NOT SURPRISING
There should be no surprise when the difficulties between Board members enable/produce an environment for similar problems with Staff and other employees. The concept of rotating the general manager’s position within a large organization with hundreds or thousands of “staff qualified” employees makes some sense considering the “cross training” approach, however, the proposed plan to do so at the LDPCSD where there are only six (6) full time employees [half of which might be interested in the GM position] was, in MY OPINION, extremely damaging to this district on a number of levels.
Such a suggestion does not occur within a vacuum devoid of consequences and I believe this is precisely what our CSD is now experiencing … the negative ramifications of an ill-conceived proposal. (Whether the resulting turmoil was intended or not is for the public to decide. Insecurity in any position is not desirable and can greatly increase the probability of a manipulative influence. The former Mariposa County Grand Jury certainly did not embrace the concept and ultimately suggested the director proposing such rotation resign as president of the board.)
INTENT AND MOTIVATION
What motivates people to do the things they do? Are their actions reasonable based on the currently known fact patterns or are there surreptitious ulterior motives? This is where trust in representation is crucial.
Obviously the extent of monetary compensation received for an individual’s work is of great interest to any employee. Those fortunate enough to actually enjoy their work may indeed place greater emphasis on their personal satisfaction in doing a job well but I suspicion most everyone would prefer to earn as much as possible if given the opportunity. But there’s the rub. If someone is tantalized with the prospect of greater reward and responsibility in obtaining a higher position such a proposed opportunity could distract from the duties for which they are already employed and compensated. Add to this the uncertainty and frustration caused to the employee who is currently charged with the sought after duties (and compensation) and a stage is set for an unnecessary adversarial and competitive relationship rather than that of mutual co-operation.
This produces serious collateral damage to other employees and district business at hand. Rather than collaborative work by all employees focused on the efficient execution of district business – an environment of distrust and suspicion is created. Co-operation and mutual support for the primary job is replaced with at best, apathy and/or indifference and at worst, disruption and/or intentional sabotage of another’s work.
SIGNIFICANT FACTS UNKNOWN
Without knowledge of all the facts (Closed Session information is confidential and not to be disseminated) it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the public to appreciate exactly what has been going on within our CSD. I believe particular pieces of information acquired in CLOSED SESSION would in short order clear up much of the confusion on both sides, but that is not possible at this time.
Personally I believe both parties are essentially victims of a ludicrous idea whose foreseeable negative consequences were clearly evident.
ANOTHER CIVIL MEETING
Although the last meeting went quite well (with the exception of the Ranchito Well Study – a preliminary capacity report – see below) I can’t help but believe the presence of an observing mediator (suggested by the previous Grand Jury) and members of the current Grand Jury, [in addition to the Vice President’s clearing of the meeting room a few meetings back because of another planned disruption], undoubtedly played a major role in the resulting civility. Be that as it may, it was pleasant and should continue. You know, as residents and “investors” in this community we probably have more in common than either side is willing to recognize. Perhaps by conscientiously avoiding “trigger issues” of the past our meetings will focus on more current district issues?
POSITIVE AND UPBEAT
I have a “post-it” above my computer monitor that reads: “Keep it positive and upbeat” but holding to such a positive affirmation is quite difficult at times. Occasionally friends and acquaintances from the valley will ask if I am still pleased with my foothill property purchased over 20 years ago and to be quite honest the answer might vary a bit depending upon recent activity up here. Lake Don Pedro politics are not enjoyable but the beautiful foothill environment usually trumps that downer. Perhaps the question is actually moot because much like the Roach Motel you can check in but cannot check out without a substantial loss of hard work and money – but that’s probably true anywhere nowadays. I firmly believe Lake Don Pedro will eventually be recognized as a great place to live and a good investment for the future, however, the past ideas of “fast money” probably won’t materialize again for quite some time. I guess it all depends upon what a person values the most, a home or lucrative financial investment.
A while back I was visiting some friends up here when a Hawk decided to take a break on their deck railing. Although the photograph was taken from inside the picture window it still came out pretty clear. Check out that predator look after I tapped on the glass!
Yup, there is so much to appreciate in these foothills if you take the time to observe and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else…. now if we could just do something about the counter-productive politics! lol
RANCHITO WELL STUDY REPORT
Unfortunately, the Engineer’s report concerning the question of the Ranchito Well production capacity [included in last meeting’s Board Packet furnished to the public] appears to support the uneasiness of those (including myself) who believe the continued expansion of service from that source could have some serious financial ramifications. The LDPCSD is a surface water treatment plant but if “ground water substitution for surface water transfer” is something to be considered – all rate paying customers should have a say in establishing that policy because it could get extremely expensive. Only a few months ago there were those that strenuously advocated expansion of such water service to properties outside the Merced Irrigation District Place of Use requirements under Water License 11395 – imagine where we would be now had that taken place?
Sure it would be wonderful to provide water to any property whose owner wanted it but as a former LDPCSD President recently commented, our CSD should refrain from providing services that are not required by law. Not required is one thing, not authorized is another. Still, just about anything is possible with the support of the majority of customers who would be willing to fund such a project.
A NEW COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT?
Apparently, a well is being drilled at the corner of HWY 132 and Bonds Flat Road where some potential commercial businesses might be located in the near future. Hopefully the drilling was successful and the well will provide adequate water for that development under the theory fair competition benefits everyone.
My best to you and yours, Lew