Pumpkin-Spiced Eggnog Recipe

This recipe contains raw egg whites. Anyone who is pregnant or may have a weak immune system should not eat raw eggs.

This is very rich and I like it best just a spoonful at a time. Add it to a drink like coffee or scoop it over pudding or ice cream.

Ingredients
3/4 cup cream
6 eggs, seperated
1/2 cup + 2 tsp sugar, divided
1 cup dark rum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Instructions
In a chilled bowl, beat cream to stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate until needed.

In a double boiler pan, Whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until frothy.
Whisk in rum.
Set pan over simmering water.
Continue whisking until mixture increases in volume an thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and place in a large bowl of ice water to cool.
Refrigerate until needed.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until frothy.
Gradually sprinkle cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and 2 tsp of sugar.
Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

In separate bowl, whisk together milk and pumpkin until smooth.

Fold whipped cream gently into chilled egg yolks.
Gradually fold in beaten egg whites and milk mixture.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Best if eaten within 24 hours if kept covered and refrigerated.

Homelessness

As our weather turns cold and we welcome the much needed rain, it is natural for our thoughts to turn to people who do not have shelter.

It is hard to understand how homeless population estimates are calculated. For example, it is not always obvious when a teenager is couch surfing. Others wandering from place to place and living in the shadows are also hard to identify. Placer County Health and Human Services estimates over 600 homeless people reside in our county. The Downtown Sacramento Partnership has a goal to obtain 2,400 housing beds for a portion of the homeless in their city. Regardless of how these estimates are determined, it is obvious by simple observation that the homeless population is growing in our communities.

Loaves & Fishes has serviced the homeless in downtown Sacramento for over 32 years. With a $5 million budget and a thousand volunteers, the board of directors continues to operate as a grass roots organization, without government funding and a ground level understanding of the homeless population.

Observing successes and lessons learned by Sacramento groups servicing the homeless can benefit us here in Placer County to address the growing problem closer to home.

There are fewer people without a roof over their head in Sacramento compared to several years ago. One reason for the improvement is collaboration of services. Let me explain.

It is easy to become mentally ill when a person is homeless, and vice versa. When mental health care facilities are not available, and a policeman encounters a mentally instable person who is a danger to themselves or others, the only option is the hospital Emergency Room. Nothing is more expensive than an ER and sometimes homeless people visit the ER every other day. The police force, already under pressure to solve more problems than they have time to solve, must wait two or three hours at the hospital until a patient they are admitting gets served. Frequent admission of homeless people is also an overwhelming drain on hospital resources.

Mercy Hospitals and Dignity Health recognized this as a problem they could do something about. In 2013, Dignity Health issued grants requiring multiple organizations including Loaves & Fishes, police, mental health facilities, hospital emergency rooms and others in Sacramento to communicate and work together. These Collaboration Grants were a turning point for improving the homeless situation in Sacramento. Dedicated policemen with clinicians in their cruisers help people get linked into the treatments and facilities they need. A database of the history of each case is accessible by all who serve them.

Loaves and Fishes relies solely on private donations to support its work of feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. Absence of government funding allows more freedom in how services are provided resulting in more effective results.

Sacramento Steps Forward, created by the city and county of Sacramento to get funds from HUD, provides a contrasting example. A requirement to receive funds from HUD is completion of a 25-30 minutes questionnaire probing into details of each homeless person served. Mathematical values assigned to each answer a homeless person gives to these very personal questions are calculated into a Vulnerability Index. Placement on that index determines how soon a person will receive services. There are currently 1,700 people waiting for housing based on the Vulnerability Index in Sacramento.

Mercy hospitals noticed that uncoordinated efforts by multiple service groups to the homeless in Sacramento were ineffective and costly. Forcing service providers to work together through the Collaboration Grant has had a positive impact including the result that 85% of the people who are moved into permanent supportive housing in Sacramento are staying housed.

To learn more about homelessness in Placer County, you can attend free meetings open to the public on the first Thursday of each month from 9-11 am in Auburn City Hall’s Rose Room.

Placer County Conservation Plan

Like many of you, I was born and raised in this county and have seen major changes over the years. I remember piling into the car with my family for a trip downtown to drive through the first stoplight installed in Auburn. Cow pastures surrounding Rocklin and Roseville have transposed into a hub for high technology. And gone are the days of walking into a restaurant and recognizing at least half of the people there.

Attraction to Placer County has many facets. We enjoy a unique plethora of geography including the central valley, Donner Summit, an alpine lake (half of Lake Tahoe), and desert terrain with altitudes varying from 100 to 9.000 feet.
For 25 years, Placer has been one of California’s fastest growing counties expanding from 172,796 to 355,328 residents, outpacing the Bay area and greater Sacramento region.

The city of Lincoln, which was home to 6,000 or 7,000 just a few years ago, has already grown to nearly 40,000 today. Future population across the county is projected to double to 748,000 by 2060. One-fifth of the land west of Auburn will be developed over the next 35 years with over 90% of the growth in Roseville and Rocklin.

Within the county boundaries there are a mere handful of incorporated cities, leaving county government as the largest provider of municipal services and the main player in plans for growth.

Through the newly developing Placer County Conservation Plan, Placer County is anticipating a more urban landscape dominated by single family residences. The Placer County Conservation Plan covers approximately 200,000 acres of western Placer County with goals to protect land and lower the costs, including a more efficient permitting process. The Conservation Plan includes several key development projects and procedures to protect the environment.

Placer Vineyards is one of the largest projects in California with plans for 14,000 dwellings. Another 2,000 homes are planned for Bickford Ranch and Placer Ranch projects 5,327 residences. The University of Warwick purchased 600 acres anticipating the education of 6,000 students by 2031. There will also be a new Sac State annex for 30,000 students.

About 6% of the land west of Auburn is wetlands, putting market forces for aggressive growth at odds with preservation requirements. Land around the casino and the city of Lincoln is the densest protected land in the county. There are 4 birds, 2 reptiles, 2 amphibians, 2 fish and 4 invertebrates in our county which are endangered, and are protected and regulated by 3 levels of government. Disturbances to the protected land, including such magical things as vernal pools, require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Californian Fish and Wildlife, and Placer County.

Clean, cold, well-oxygenated water flowing from the mountains in the American River is fundamental to maintaining the Delta. Much of the water used for the new development will be pulled from the Sacramento River by PCWA to allow the higher quality water to continue to flow into the Delta.

Twenty million dollars of the $1 billion budgeted for county development in the next 50 years, will be spent on conservation. Fees collected from those who impact the protected resources as a result of their development projects will pay for the program. State and federal contributions will also help fund projects.

Approval of the plan will be requested from the Board of Supervisors and City of Lincoln in September 2016. The public will then have a chance to review plans in January 2017 with permits to be obtained late in 2018. Most of the effort between now and September 2016 will be spent obtaining approval from the Federal government to protect the vernal pools.

The transition in store for us demands careful planning and deserves our close attention. I hope you stay informed as planning evolves and let your elected officials know your opinions.

More detail on the Placer County Conservation Plan and contact information for your representatives is at www.lwvplacercounty.org. You can also contact the Community Development Agency within the Placer County Planning Department.

Nevada County Library Funding

At our county domes on Fulweiler Street, a Placer County citizen recently made a public appeal to save the Meadow Vista library, which was being threatened with closure. A supervisor replied to the plea by explaining how more funding to libraries would mean less funding to other services in the county. The money would just move from one program to the other shifting the problem. The answer was simple to understand and hard to argue with unless one had a detailed understanding of the Placer County budget.

Our budget is 4 inches thick when printed on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. This simple answer, however, did not respect the complexity of county funding programs. Assuming constituents do not understand the details of the budget and interrelations of services is a safe bet.

Funding models used by local libraries in other counties are a simpler illustration to understand and discover ways to overcome underfunded libraries. What follows is information on the Nevada County libraries as a point of comparison for our own county.

In 1996, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted to cut library funding by 50%. The following year’s budget proposed an additional 20% reduction. Most professional librarian positions were eliminated. Children’s programs and school visits were halted. The three circulating library branches in the system reduced the hours they were open to the public to less than 28 a week. The Doris Foley Library, a research branch, was staffed entirely by volunteers.

Nevada County has strong grassroots support for libraries. Much of the county is rural and still use dial up to access the internet. Libraries are a good place to go for getting online and accessing information that more urban areas take for granted. Nevada County also values education, as evidenced by their support of a Sierra College campus in Grass Valley. Two Friends of the Library groups, one on each side of Donner Pass, augment their funds. The Friends of the Library groups are non-profit fundraisers and supporters of library services.

By 1998, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors placed Measure B on the ballot proposing a 1/8 cent sales tax increase to be dedicated to library services and materials for 5 years. The measure passed.

In 2002, with Measure B slated to expire in 2003, Measure C appeared on the Nevada County ballot proposing an extension. With 77% voter approval and passage in every district, Nevada County voters renewed the 1/8 cent sales tax; this time for fifteen years. Measure C also established a citizen oversight committee to ensure that sales tax funds were allocated to the Library and that funds were spent equitably.

Enactment of these ballot measures increased the Nevada County library budget from $500 thousand to $2.8 million. The increased funding resulted in more than twice as many paid library employees and more than doubled the hours libraries were open to the public. Two new station branches – open for limited hours and limited to basic services – were also opened.

Nevada County applies for and receives grants every year from the Northern Sierra Air Quality District. Vehicle licensing fee funding (AB 2766) is distributed to groups designing services to reduce air pollution from vehicles. In the past few years, the Library in our neighboring county has received funding through this program for eBooks and downloadable audio books; lending kiosks (like vending machines for books); and a project to redesign their website and enhance their online offerings.

Placer County can learn important lessons from Nevada County’s library recovery, and apply that knowledge to many budget items in addition to the libraries. Use of the logic that funds shifted to libraries would be detrimental to services in another area of the budget is simplistic. That type of attitude ignores the interrelation of services. For example, there is a direct correlation between literacy and crime. There is also a direct positive impact made by library services on mental health, homelessness and child development. Through a program supported by the Placer County Friends of the Library, ten inmates in Placer County jail are currently being taught to read. The expectation is that it may lower incarceration and law enforcement costs.

Placer County is a charter county, enabling more flexibility and control than a traditional county such as Nevada. We have the right environment for the creative and holistic thinking required to solve the hard problems.

Almond Granola Recipe

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tsp vanilla

2 cups chopped almonds

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

5 cups oats (not quick oats)

2 cups chopped dried fruit

Preheat oven to 325.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wisk syrup, sugar, vanilla, salt in bowl.

Wisk in oil.

Fold in oats and almonds until coated.

Transfer oat mixture to baking sheet and spread into 3/8″ layer.

Compress with a spatula until compact.

Bake to light brown, 40-45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack about 1 hour.

Break into pieces and add in the dried fruit.

This can be stored at room temperature for 2 weeks.

 

Two Reasons to Vote

There are only two reasons for anyone in America to vote. Regardless of your values, your political preferences, your background or your experience, they are the same reasons for all of us.

Every item on the ballot is either a person running for office or a measure proposing a new law. You only need to vote if you believe either one of these two things.

1. Your life will be affected by which particular person is in office.
2. You will be affected by new laws.

For those who truly believe all politicians are the same, it is easy to understand why voting for candidates is not a good enough reason to submit a ballot. One could argue that politicians come and go and that what a candidate says during their campaign is often evasive with no guarantee on follow through after the election.

It is much harder to understand why someone would not vote on new laws proposed by ballot measures.

New laws or changes to existing laws appear on our ballots as propositions. They are ideas proposed by either the legislature or by voters collecting signatures through the initiative process. Our state sometimes carries as many as a dozen propositions on a single ballot. Propositions do not get the same attention or dramatic media scrutiny as candidates. Unlike emotional rhetoric typical from the candidates, a proposition is written in black and white and if enacted, the law is exactly what was stated in the text of the proposition before the election.

Our current state Legislature is attempting to make it more difficult to place measures that are initiated by citizens on the ballot. They say it will reduce ballot clutter, but it will also simplify work for them by eliminating contention with ballot measures submitted by citizens that may conflict with the legislation the legislatures themselves have planned.

However, polling has consistently shown that Californians like having the power to vote on big issues. And who wouldn’t?

Two opportunities for voters to weigh in on new laws in 2016 will be to affect public employee pensions and the twin tunnels planned to carry water south under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Both measures propose subjecting these issues to public votes, allowing Californians to weigh in on the decisions.

The “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016”, would require voter approval for any future increases in pension benefits for public employees. Sponsors argue that voters now approve long-term bonds, so it’s only fair that pension benefits should have to undergo the same level of approval. Strong opposition is expected from the multimillion-dollar public employee unions.

Similar in logic, a ballot proposition designed to affect the twin tunnels would require that any state revenue bond in excess of $2 billion be subjected to a statewide vote, just as general obligation bonds must be approved by voters.
Both propositions are designed to give voters a say on highly controversial, very expensive issues.

Even if you believe the laws of our land are important enough to warrant your vote, you may not always have time to study the ballot propositions in enough detail to fully understand the consequences of them passing. Plenty of explanations are usually available in the media which are biased either for or against. The loudest advertisements are those with the most money to spend on getting their message out. Mailings, television, radio and other media on propositions during the campaign is not always accurate and is most often designed to sway your decision, not to provide you with a fair and balanced perspective.

For the last seven years, the League of Women Voters of Placer County has provided unbiased analysis of state ballot measures in each election. Information in various levels of detail is on their website at www.lwvplacercounty.org during the election season. If you prefer in-person explanations and the ability to ask questions, members of the organization make presentations explaining ballot propositions to service clubs, churches, or even a group of friends. You can email questions or requests for a speaker to speaker@lwvplacercounty.org .

This easy to use resource in our county for unbiased information on proposed laws for our state makes it possible for every voter to be informed and have their say heard on new laws being proposed on the ballot. That means no one in Placer County has an excuse not to vote.

Civil Discourse in Politics

Just over half of the registered voters in Placer County cast ballots in the November 2014 election. Only 41% of voters across California turned out. Those numbers do not include another 25% of Placer County’s eligible voters who remain unregistered.

 
Weak voter turnout across our country can be attributed to mistrust of government inflamed by a lack of civil discussion. A Pew poll in January 2014 found 75% of Americans trusted the federal government to do what is right “only some of the time” or “never”. In Sept 2014, a Gallop poll revealed Americans estimate Washington wastes fifty-one cents for every dollar it spends.

 
Accelerating the decline of citizen engagement in our government are two notable demographic shifts underway; Millennials maturing into adults and immigrants from within the Hispanic community.

 
More than half of the Millennials in our country are uninvolved with government policy. For their entire lives disrespectful discourse among adults, including candidates and government officials, has been the norm. The general sentiment in society teaches them not to trust politicians. “Couldn’t lead a puppy to a hamburger” and “Absolutely delusional, she has disqualified herself to be commander in chief” are actual quotes from a democratic politician and a republican politician. This is just a mild sampling of daily political “rhetoric” many have learned to ignore. It is no wonder our young adults are disinterested or even repelled by this behavior and do not want to participate.

 
Many young people entering adulthood and the political world are surprisingly uninformed about how government works and their connection to it. Traditional civics courses based largely on history in textbooks do not motivate involvement. Teaching students how they can use the government to change things would be more effective.

 
Another demographic shift contributing to declining civic involvement are immigration trends. In the next 15 years, it is estimated that eligible Hispanic voters in California will increase to 53% while 30% will be white. Politicians understand these growth trends well. Meg Whitman spent $20 million to reach the Spanish-speaking population in her campaign for governor, but her position against education of the undocumented lost her votes from the Latino community. President Obama’s websites lack Spanish translation of fact sheets and policies while it is clearly states in English that he supports Latinos.

 
To appeal to those it proposes to help, Hispanic policy currently lacking in tangible content must become an immigration-integration policy. For example, Latinos stop speaking Spanish by 2nd grade and are not given the opportunity to study it again until high school. Many Latinos choose to come here because they believe in democracy, even though it costs more than $2,000 to naturalize. Unable to identify policy relevant to their lives, a mere 30% of registered Hispanic voters actually vote.

 
Incorporated into a non-participating culture, immigrants learn not to engage, in a way that is similar to that of the Millenials. When Hispanics, who eventually make up more than half of eligible voters and only vote a third of the time are combined with a younger population who are not engaged, it causes one to wonder how much lower voter participation will go before our system becomes illegitimate.

 
By age sixteen, George Washington had copied by hand 10 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company And Conversation numerous times in penmanship class. The most substantial problem of civic involvement can be rectified by simply following the first rule.

 
Rule #1: Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

 
Civility in our democracy is not about squelching assertiveness, protest, civil disobedience or rigorous discussion of issues. Civil deliberation is a set of attitudes, behaviors, and skills that support thoughtful acts and values-based discussions when community members and public officials come to the table to talk. Civil discussions occur when we are able to regulate the cognitive and emotional information necessary to bring our best selves to the task of talking about challenging issues. Complicated problems like water and homelessness require inescapable tradeoffs, made in a way that is mutually constructive, respectful and courteous.

 
Only by considering all sides is it possible to make progress while keeping everyone’s dignity and rights intact. If people feel a need to harbor hatred for those on the other side, so be it. But it is best if ugly remarks are kept to themselves as a courtesy to everyone else.

 
Dwight D. Eisenhower advised, “We need to celebrate diversity of thought, not pummel those with whom we may disagree. Civil discourse should be, above all else, civil.”

 
Ask your representatives on the city council, the county board of supervisors and in Congress what they are doing to promote civil discourse in their district. After all, everybody honors he who honors everybody else.

Public Budgets in California and Placer County

It is budgeting season for our state, county and cities. The fiscal year, beginning on July 1st, requires plans for how California will spend over $1 billion, how Placer County will spend nearly $800 million, and how Auburn, as our county seat, will spend over $1 million.

At the state level, our governor and Legislature disagree and negotiate over various points before approving the budget by June 15, the constitutional deadline.

Here are examples of differences of opinion between Governor Brown and the Legislature on several issues in the fiscal year beginning July 2015.

Issue: Amount of Money coming into California will be more than earlier expectations.
Governor Opinion: Assumes state will take in $115 billion.
Legislature Opinion: Assumes state will take in $119 billion based on Legislative Analyst Office estimate.

Issue: Child Care funding is $1 billion less than before the recession.
Governor Opinion: Add $101 million to create 4,000 new slots.
Senate Opinion: Add $300 million to create 17,500 new slots and allow collective bargaining for workers.
Assembly Opinion: Add $605 million to create 20,500 new slots and allow collective bargaining for workers.

Issue: University of California raised fees last fall, then agreed to a 2 year tuition freeze for in-state students and pension overhaul.
Governor Opinion: Increase UC’s funding by $119.5 million in the coming year.
Legislature Opinion: Increase UC funding $25 million above governor’s proposal contingent on UC increasing enrollment by 5,000 in-state students in one year and not raising tuition in the next two years.

Issue: Medi-Cal Health care providers want to rescind the 10% cut in reimbursement for Medi-Cal patients.
Governor Opinion: Do not restore the 10% cut to Medi-Cal reimbursement that would have saved the state $200 million.
Legislature Opinion: Eliminate half of the Medi-Cal reimbursement reduction July 1 for dental at a cost of $15 million. Eliminate half of the reduction to all other providers on April 1.

Issue: Home-care workers hours were reduced during the recession, triggering unions and disability advocates to sue the state.
Governor Opinion: Raise $1.7 billion from a tax on health plans and use 10-15% of that to restore home-care service hours.
Legislature Opinion: State pays most of what it costs to restore hours effective in October and tax on managed-care organizations pays the rest.

Noteworthy in the Placer County budget are growth plans to the west of Highway 65. A key development is the University of Warwick campus that will grow to 6,000 students over the next 15 years. The 600-acre campus west of Roseville is part of one of England’s leading universities founded in 1965 and widely respected for excellence in research and innovation. The University of Warwick was declared University of the Year by the Times for 2014/2015. Placer County leaders are counting on economic development brought on by faculty jobs for local residents and skilled college-educated workers graduating locally.

“The Placer County Conservation Plan”, as Placer County Board of Supervisor Chairman Kirk Uhler puts it, “is Placer County’s Development Plan”. The plan, not yet finished, will be implemented starting next year.

While on the surface budget projections look good, looming liabilities are not as public. Recent estimates project unfunded pension liability for state and local governments in California at $4.7 trillion. Placer County is obligated to pay $100 million in employee pensions that it does not have. For too long, pension fund officials and politicians increased payouts in excess of the contributions to support the payouts. As a result, there is now not enough money to pay the promised benefits. Accounting practices do not make the true cost obvious to the public, and yet the public is now on the hook to make up the difference between promises and money to cover them.

While a growing share of budgets go to pensions, less is spent on public libraries, maintenance, parks, as well as feet on the street policemen and firefighters at the bottom of their organization who are directly responsible for the safety of our communities. In Oakland, for example, given the option to contribute 9% of their salary to their pensions and save 80 police jobs, the union voted to continue paying nothing and bypassing the option to hire additional officers.

Being unable to modify pensions Vallejo, Stockton and San Bernardino have declared bankruptcy.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board is implementing new rules to require governments to report unfunded pension liabilities on their 2015 balance sheets. The new rule will provide transparency to allow a better understanding for the public. Also, look for legislation in the 2016 election that will give state and local governments more options to adjust pensions.

Adult Literacy in Placer County

A local business owner in her mid-30’s recently contacted the Placer Adult Literacy Service (PALS) requesting tutoring. She did not know how to read and wanted to help her son with his homework.
A young man in our county jail is also learning how to read from PALS tutors. When he came to jail, he lost his college athletic scholarship, not because he cannot read, but because he was arrested.
These two people are among the 10% of adults in Placer County who cannot read. Across California, one in four adults is illiterate.

 
Many people who are unable to read are smarter than average, but uneducated. In fact, many develop strong coping skills to compensate for not being able to read basic survival information like product directions, road signs, the news or a job application.

 
Working for a life-skills-training program in Sacramento over a period of several years, I listened to stories from over 100 homeless women. The pattern of homelessness was passed down from generation to generation. It included having children, losing children, going to jail, using illegal drugs, dropping out of school, and the inability to read. Costs and a heavier load on society for public services (including welfare, mental health, rehabilitation, courts, and law enforcement) all increase when this cycle is continued. Social assistance programs in some areas are recognizing the best way to break this cycle is to read to children in disadvantaged environments at an early age. During inspections of living environments, social workers insist that books are present and being read on a regular basis to all children present. Mothers in these environments are willing participants in the low cost, high quality tactic of regularly reading to their children as a way to help them develop into a better life.

 
General guidelines in our country suggest that children should have 1000 stories read to them from start to finish before they begin kindergarten. Reading one story every day for 3 years, for example, adds up to more than 1000. Parents who cannot read to their children start or continue the multi-generational cycle of not being able to read and passing along the burdens that come with that cycle.

 
For the one in ten adults in Placer County who cannot read, free services are available from PALS and local libraries. In addition to the PALS tutors, Brainfuse is a private company that offers online tutoring for all ages including resume writing, test preparation, live career coaching, foreign language lessons and more. The Literacy Support Council donated money to the Placer County library, on behalf of the PALS program, to pay for a subscription to Brainfuse. The Brainfuse service can be accessed by the public from Placer County Library’s website free of charge. You simply need a Placer County Library card to log in. The card is also free and can be obtained at any of our 11 branch locations in the county.

 
PALS tutors meet one-on-one with learners, in person, anywhere in Placer County for confidential reading and writing assistance.

 
Referring people to these services not only helps strengthen our entire community, it also helps those who cannot read advertisements to become aware. PALS phone number is (530) 886-4530.

Gangs in Placer County

Of the seven recognized gangs in California, Norteños and Sureños are the two present in Placer County. Norteños and Soreños are warring gangs. Each has an ever present and almost obsessive goal of killing people in the other gang. Anyone at Juvenile Hall can tell you that.

They are not shy about giving warning signs of their gang affiliation. You just need to know where to look.

The names of the gangs reflect their history of having all Hispanic members. Today, they have evolved and integrated many additional ethnicities into their membership.

New members are recruited with the promise of money, women, cars and protection. A growing gang trend is their involvement with human trafficking, the fastest growing illegal undertaking in our country. The high profit in sexual slavery, which is the most common type of human trafficking occurring in Placer County, is what is drawing more gangs into the business.

Gangs in California originated in prisons, usually for providing protection to their members. The “Generals” at the highest level direct the gangs from state prisons.

In the late 1980’s, the first laws to address gang activity were enacted in California (Penal Code 186.22), and stipulate that a person who participates in a “criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in criminal gang activity” is grounds for arrest.

Some of the signs of membership in gangs are pretty obvious. Many members have tattoos of the gang name in obvious places and printed very large and are easy to spot. More subtle signs of gang membership are through colors and numbers.

The Nuestra Family, or Norteños, started in Soledad prison in Monterey County. Norteños dress in red and identify with the number 14 because the letter “n” is the 14th letter in the alphabet. Many times they use dots to code the number 14. One dot stands alone and another 4 dots are in a row or clustered close by.

The Sureños, part of the Mexican Mafia, started near Tracy in San Joaquin County. Sureños adopted the color blue and the letter “m”. Their code name, El Eme, is Spanish for the letter “m” and their code number is 13. A member of the Sureños Tiny Locos in Roseville was arrested in 2013 in a shootout with law enforcement in downtown Roseville. This man had “Roseville Tiny Locos” tattooed in large letters across his stomach.

We are lucky that much criminal activity, including gang activity, is modest in Placer County compared to other areas in the state. Recently gang members from Stockton arrested for stealing parts from a car in Roseville. When asked why they came all the way up here to commit their crimes, they said that we “have better stuff up here”. Apparently we also have alert citizens and law enforcement. A citizen who witnessed suspicious activity around some parked cars reported it to the police, which resulted in their arrest.

If you suspect gang activity, you can call your local law enforcement agency or if you are observing a crime in progress, call 911. Some local jurisdictions have graffiti abatement programs that respond to reports of gang graffiti. General questions about gangs can be answered by calling Placer County Sheriff’s office Intelligence Unit in the Corrections Division at (530) 745-8527.

Cracker Recipe for the Dehydrator

It’s hard to find crackers made without sugar or gluten.  So why not make your own!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups ground flax seeds

1/3 cup whole flax seeds

1 tsp. salt

2 2/3 cups water

1 1/3 cups sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Optional ingredients:

1 tsp basil or oregano

slice of onion and clove of garlic

cinnamon, ginger or cloves

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together.

Line 3 trays (13″ square each) with parchment paper

Spread batter as thin as possible on the parchment paper.

Dehydrate at 120 degrees for 1 hour.

Turn dehydrator down to 105 degrees.

In about 4 hours or when the batter holds together, score dough with a pizza cutter where you want the cracker edges.

When they hold their shape (about 8 hours), break crackers apart and remove paper.

Allow crackers to dehydrate directly on the trays until they’re crispy and dry.

Store in freezer for 2 weeks or 5 days in fridge.

 

 

Mental Health & the Judicial System

On January 10, 2001 in Nevada City, a mentally ill man arrived at the Nevada County Behavioral Health Department and told Laura Wilcox, who was working as a volunteer receptionist, that he wished to see his psychiatrist. When he was unable to see his psychiatrist, he shot several people in the building, leaving three people dead, including Laura.

In an effort to prevent tragedies like this, legislation was enacted, called Laura’s Law, providing an option for treatment of people who are seen as potentially dangerous and are seriously mentally ill. Yet, the mentally ill continue to enter our courts and jails at an alarming rate.

Defendants deemed either incompetent to stand trial or insane at the time the crime was committed contribute to a list of 600 people waiting for admittance to one of 6 mental health hospitals in California. Our Superior Court judges in the county determine the mental health of defendants in the courtroom. Laws defining Competency and Insanity in addition to expert witnesses from the mental health field, guide legal judgment.

The first job of the court is to determine that defendants are able to understand the nature of the charges against them and that they can assist their lawyer in their defense, which is defined as Competent in California Penal Code Section 1368. When competence is in doubt, a psychiatrist or psychologist is appointed to further aid the determination. Both the lawyers and the judge can question Competence of a person who is on trial. Court proceedings are stopped when a defendant is determined not Competent and that defendant is held in jail waiting for admittance to a mental hospital. New evidence must be presented to the court proving competence to allow court proceedings to restart.

Another way the mentally ill enter our jails is by being considered Insane at the time the crime was committed. As defined in California Penal Code Section 1026, Insane defendants are considered to be incapable of understanding the nature of the crime that was committed and unable to distinguish between right and wrong at the time the crime was committed.
It is possible for a person to continue through a trial as a Competent defendant and yet be Insane at the time of the crime, and vice versa. Any combination of these two mental health determinations not only places great strain on a court and jail system already reeling from overcrowding and escalating costs, but also does a great disservice to the mentally ill and the safety of our community.

Recently enacted Laura’s Law (California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5345) intends to reduce the number of mentally ill people entering courts, prisons and jails. People who are not necessarily in trouble with the law but have friends or family who think that there is a risk they could be dangerous can be identified and receive mental health treatment.

Nevada County estimates that during the first two and a half years of the implementation of Laura’s Law it realized savings of more than $500,000 by avoiding hospitalizations and incarcerations. To date Nevada County is the only county that has fully implemented the law. Hopefully other local governments will adopt this law to prevent the consequences of mental health problems that otherwise are dealt with in our courts and jails.

How Money Can Buy Happiness

It’s easy to find advice on how to make money. It is harder to find guidance on how to spend it.
Traditional belief suggests that what makes you truly happy can’t be bought – but being able to afford healthier food, better medical care, more varied pastimes, better education, and leisure time with friends and family can make for a happier life. So maybe the problem is that people just don’t know how to spend it.
Elizabeth Dunn (UBC), Daniel Gilbert (Harvard) and Timothy Wilson (Virginia)’s article in Journal of Consumer Psychology entitled; “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” distills their research into several guidelines. I summarize six of those guidelines here.

1) Buy More Experiences and Fewer Material Goods.

Spending money on travel or expensive dinners doesn’t leave much to show for it afterwards. Renovating your house or buying a new car, on the other hand, is blatant evidence of your spending. However, it’s actually the former that has the greater effect on your happiness. We adapt to material things, like that new car, quickly. But, the memory of an experience (a roadtrip to the Grand Canyon or dinner on the 30th floor of a revolving restaurant), remains with you long after the fact. There is even evidence that the anticipation of the experience adds even more to the happiness of the experience.
Studies further indicate that unhappiness correlates with a wandering mind. Experiences absorb you and keep you focused on the here and now.

2) Help Others.

One major scientific reason attributed to humans’ large brain size is that we are more social than other animals. Thus, our happiness depends markedly on the quality of our social relationships. Subjects of these studies consistently report greater happiness after spending money on others rather than themselves – even if they anticipated that they would be happier otherwise.

3) Buy Many Small Pleasures Instead Of Few Large Ones.

A variety of frequent and small pleasures (lattes, massages, and high quality socks) are more enjoyable overall than one big-ticket purchase, such as a front-row concert ticket. Happiness is associated more with the frequency rather than intensity of experiences.

The surprise factor of a new experience is the main reason for this.

4) Buy Less Insurance

People overestimate their vulnerability to negative effect. When passengers travelling on a train were asked to imagine having missed the train by a minute, they imagined blaming themselves for the near miss..For example, “I would not have missed the train if only I’d woken up earlier and gotten out of the house faster.” Passengers who had actually missed their trains, however, tended to blame anyone or anything but themselves. For example, “I would not have missed the train if all the gates were open instead of just one.” Because people are highly skilled at dodging self-blame, they experience less regret than they predict. Medical insurance and car insurance may have real payback, but things like extended warranties and generous return policies at higher priced outlets are not proven to make you happier.

5) Beware of Comparison Shopping

Technology today allows you to compare products on tiny details, allowing focus on small differences at the cost of ignoring similarities on the major features. Missing the forest for the trees and choosing the wrong product based on a minor attribute may actually make you less happy in the long run.

6) Beware of Buy Now Pay Later

“Consume now and pay later” leads people to engage in shortsighted behavior, to rack up debts, to save little for retirement, etc. Delaying gratification and delaying discounting show that when people are impatient, they end up less well off

“Consume now, pay later” also eliminates anticipation, and anticipation is a source of “free” happiness (see item 1). The person who buys a cookie and eats it right away may get pleasure from it, but the person who saves the cookie until later also enjoys it when it is eventually eaten plus all the additional pleasure of looking forward to eating it.

Tomato Sauce Recipe

10 quarts (30 lbs, 40 cups, 320 ounces) pureed tomatoes
4 chopped onions
1 cup dried basil
1/2 cup honey or equivalent of stevia
4 tbls dried oregano
3 tbls salt
2 tbls ground dried lemon peel
2 tbls thyme
2 tbls garlic powder
2 tbls dried parsley
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Saute onions then add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat for 2-3 hours.
Freeze or can for storage.