Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SLT's grand jury response

Date: September 5, 2008 TO: Honorable Mayor and council" ' FROM: City Manager


Approve the proposed draft letter and authorize the City Manager to submit it to the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court

The Grand Jury's report and comments have been reviewed, evaluated, and discussed and the following proposed response is a product of this review.

Work on this report is part of the City Manager's ongoing responsibilities.

Office orlhe City Manager' 1901 Airoort Road, Ste 203 . Soulh Lake Tahoe, California 96150-7004 City Manager' (530) 542-6045 . FAX (530) 542-4054
--------------DRAFT [9-05-08]
September_, 2008
The Honorable Presiding Judge of the Superior Court
Placerville, California
I have reviewed the report of the Grand Jury and am providing the response below:
This office reviewed the report of the Grand Jury, discussed the contents with trained local government consultants and advisors, discussed department operations with management and line personnel, reviewed the latest literature on police department operations, and discussed existing conditions internally with a selected group of Department personnel.
Overview and Comments
The City of South Lake Tahoe has a highly trained, highly motivated, and highly effective resource of men and women, both sworn and non-sworn, who serve the community with skill and care. It is evident by their performance that they are committed to providing the best service possible to the people of South Lake Tahoe. The effectiveness of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department is demonstrated by their proactive work on a daily basis to protect life and property in our community. In 2007 overall crime was down 4% in the City limits from data collected in 2006. The men and women of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department are to be commended for their commitment to serving the community in a professional manner. I believe that all men and women of the Department at their core have the best interest of the Department and the community at heart.
Response to Findings
Finding #1
"The Grand Jury interviewed several citizens of South Lake Tahoe who reported an altercation that occurred in September 2006. While having breakfast in a South Lake Tahoe restaurant, one citizen stated that he was approached by the Chief of Police who began to verbally accost and loudly berate him in front of two acquaintances. The citizen did not know what provoked the verbal tirade and felt the Chief of Police must have confused him with someone else. The citizen stated the loud disturbance in the restaurant was witnessed by patrons and staff alike, caused citizens to be fearful for their safety."
I do not agree with the finding for the following reason. There is insufficient information provided by the Grand Jury in the report or in a subsequent written request by me to the Grand Jury on July 1, 2008 to draw any conclusions about the allegations made. The alleged conduct occurred in 2006. Had a complaint been filed with the City in regard to the allegations, it would have been impartially investigated and evaluated as are all complaints against police officers. Had additional information been provided to this office by the Grand Jury the matter could have been investigated, but no additional information was provided. In my experience, people living in South Lake Tahoe are not shy about expressing their opinions on matters of interest and/or concern to them.
Finding #2
"The Chief of Police, by losing his temper in public and verbally berating a citizen of South Lake Tahoe in a public restaurant, acted in an inappropriate manner and displayed conduct unbecoming an officer. All citizens of South Lake Tahoe should have an expectation of being treated fairly in a professional and dignified manner by ALL members of the SLTPD."
I agree that "All citizens of South Lake Tahoe should have an expectation of being treated fairly in a professional and dignified manner by ALL members of the SLTPD."
I do not agree that there is sufficient information provided by the Grand Jury for this specific matter to be investigated and evaluated in a manner consistent with the Law and the rights of police officers under the Police Officer Bill of Rights. Had complaints been made to the City about the alleged conduct of the Chief of Police near the time when they were alleged to have occurred, they would have
been investigated and appropriate action taken. There is no evidence in the record to support the claim and no opportunity for the Chief of Police to respond to the allegations. If the Grand Jury would provide the names of citizens who are alleged to have reported on this altercation in September 2006, the matter will be investigated.
Finding #3
"In the course of this investigation, the Grand Jury also learned of serious concerns among employees of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department on the state of the morale and cynicism that exists in the Department."
I agree that there has been a morale problem and degree of cynicism on the part of some members of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. The genesis of the situation has evolved over time and was exacerbated in my view by protracted labor relations in late 2007 that were outgrowths of wages, hours and working conditions and low staffing levels within the Police Department. Outstanding issues must be addressed in the near term.
Finding # 4
"Although the Police Department is managed through a Participative Management Team (PMT) which was initiated in 1991-1992, the program has deteriorated over time and is currently ineffective. PMT is designed to allow all employees to participate in the decision making process of the Department. The Police Department leadership hired a consultant with the purpose of assisting in the PMT process."
I do not fully agree with the finding with an explanation. The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is managed by a Chief of Police and management personnel who are responsible and held accountable for the performance of the Department. The Participative Management Team process was created in the early 1990's as a way of involving and including line sworn and non-sworn personnel in certain levels of decision making within the Police Department. During its early years, I am told, this process was useful because police department personnel wanted to provide the time needed to involve themselves in police management issues.
From interviews and disclJssions with Department personnel and management I have had, the PMT process has been less effective and desirable in the last few years. Some long-time members of the Department see benefits to it. Newer members of the Department have expressed more interest in a more traditional
model of police management and do not think they have the time to participate in "management" decision making. With the existing work schedule, shortage of personnel (vacancies, cuts, injuries etc), the demands of their jobs and the requirements for time of family life, many officers have little interest to devote more time to work on department management issues.
In the end, whether there exists a PMT or not, sworn and non sworn members of the Police Department must be assured and believe that they will be treated fairly and impartially by Department supervisors and leadership, that their suggestions and observations about police operations will be heard, evaluated, and that Department management demonstrates through its action that they care about the welfare of employees and the future of the Department. Perceptions of ill will can be corrected over time by consistent and sustained actions of good will.
Early in his tenure as Chief of Police, Chief Daniels sought to have evaluated the existing PMT model and employee attitudes at a time when labor negotiations over wages, hours and working conditions were intense. An assessment of employee attitudes and concerns was assessed, and the findings indicated that there were morale issues among many of those who participated in the evaluation process. Not all employees of the Department participated in the initial survey in 2007 and fewer participated in the follow-up survey.
The approval of the City Council of multi-year labor agreements with recognized police sworn and non-sworn bargaining units should help to improve the labor/management environment. The City Council's decisions to approve a change in the existing work schedule of the Police Department in the adopted MOU's, add two new police officer positions in this year's budget and the proposal to add a new police sergeant position in the proposed FY 2008-2009 budget to implement the new schedule by January 1, 2009 will help to address outstanding labor concerns with the work schedule.
Finding #5
"The evidence received by the Grand Jury paints a picture of a Department in crisis. Many of the statements made by members of the SLTPD and information gathered through documents can only be classified as troubling... "
I agree that among those persons who responded to the initial survey and to the supplemental survey that there is a degree of cynicism and a degree of disconnect between the perceptions of line personnel and police management. The Chief of Police and police management acknowledge that there are communication and cynicism problems, and they want to correct them.
Maintaining employee self esteem, rewarding employees for their efforts in achieving Department and City goals, employees believing that promotions are based on merit, believing that all management cares about employees of the Department, and allowing a free exchange of ideas and opinions within the context of a police (quasi-military) organization without fear of reprisal are important and essential to the healthy functioning of the Department.
Based on my interviews with management and line personnel I believe that all personnel in police management care about the Department, the people who work there, and the future of the Department. Management showing department personnel on a day-to-day basis they are sincere and concerned about their personal and professional development is an area where work is needed. Department leaders and managers, while maintaining discipline and a chain of command in a police department, must demonstrate by their actions their interest in and concern for the men and women in the Police Department. There will always be levels of agreement and disagreement in management/labor issues. Management must approach decisions in good faith and consider and evaluate constructive suggestions, and I have been assured that Police Management intends to do so.
Promotions within the Police Department are based on merit. The Human Resources Manager and her staff work with Department leadership in the conduct of promotional testing and evaluation process. There is no evidence in the record indicating that promotion is based on any other basis. However, Human Resources will work with the Department to better understand specific concerns of employees with regard to promotions and better inform them on the process. To the extent possible and available, standardized and validated testing processes from organizations like the Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS), will be used for all appointments and promotions to build confidence in the system.
Finding # 6
"The Chief recognized the Police department had many problems, and initiated the review knowing it may be unfavorable. The Grand Jury acknowledges this proactive efforts (sic) in requesting outside professional advice."
I agree with the finding. The decision to seek an independent review by the Chief of Police is a mark of leadership, and he deserves that recognition and credit.
1. "The Grand Jury recommends that the SLTPD leadership attend Strategic Management, Leadership, Coaching & Mentoring, Business Management, Anger Management, and Human Skills Development Training"
I agree that leadership in the SLTPD should attend leadership training, team building, executive facilitation and coaching, change management and effective communication techniques. Team building exercises should also be conducted with line personnel using models provided by POST.
2. "The City Council and City Manager should take proactive measures in administering oversight to the Police Department. The City Council and the City Manager should assume the formalization of the Police Department oversight is established and fully implemented. The Grand Jury recommends the Chief of Police meet with the City Manager on a "monthly" basis to give a 'State of the Department' update to include performance measurement.
Formal oversight of the Police Department exists, and will continue. The Chief of Police and City Manager are meeting on a more-than-monthly basis and will continue to do so. The functioning of the Department and issues the men and women of the Department face will remain an important topic of discussion and evaluation.
3. "The Grand Jury recommends the Chief of Police prepare a written three and five year Strategic Plan. A copy of that plan should be published and available to the public."
I agree that a Corporate Strategy for the Police Department is desirable and shall be developed. The strategy will define values of the organization, identify emerging issues the Department will face in a three to five year period and address how effective and meaningful communication within the Department can and should occur. The development of this strategy will be facilitated and supported by professionals trained in the field.
4. "The City Manager, City Council and the Chief of Police should collectively agree on the type of organizational structure for the South Lake Tahoe Police Department."
The Chief of Police is ultimately responsible for the functioning and operation of the Police Department, and he is held accountable for its operation. The Chief of Police and his management team must work more closely together and be in concert on Department goals and objectives and work as a team to achieve them. At this time, a more traditional model of Department organization is appropriate.
5. "It is recommended that the SLTPD 'revitalize' a form of Participative Management Team. If SLTPD agrees to continue with that program, then management needs to be trained in the PMT process to completely utilize the full benefits of the program. Additionally, employees of the SLTPD must actively participate in the PMT to generate the desired results."
I agree that Department leadership should invite and encourage constructive dialogue with sworn and non sworn members of the Department about operations and this constructive dialogue must be nurtured and protected. In the final analysis, command decisions must be made by the Chief of Police and command staff. The concept of inviting participation and input that was contained in the traditional PMT will be encouraged, even though the Department will move to a more typical model of police department organization. Effective organizations including police departments invite and encourage constructive dialogue to vet issues and improve performance.
6. "The SLTPD's Strategic Plan should address clearly defined performance measures that include at a minimum the following areas of concern:

Confidence in Senior Management



Visions and Values of the Department"
I agree that a corporate strategy is needed as defined in response Recommendation #3
7. "The City Manager and City Council should maintain an active presence in tracking the Strategic Plan progress."
I agree and the City Manager and City Council will continue to maintain an active interest in the success of the Department and its fine men and women. It is important that the existing professionalism in the Department be supported and encouraged by Police management. It is equally important that the Department, while remaining accountable, not become a political football that compromises the professionalism of Department, the effectiveness of Department operations, and brings into question the fine work of dedicated men and women of the Department.
8. liThe Chiefs annual performance evaluation should include the progress of the goals set in the Strategic Plan."
I agree with clarification. The Chief's annual performance evaluation includes addressing outstanding issues, building confidence and overcoming obstacles. Once the Corporate Strategy is developed and in place it too will become a measure of performance for all police management staff including the Chief of Police.
David M. Jinkens, MPA City Manager

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blue awards for Tahoe businesses

After years of promoting the Blue World in its advertising campaign, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is finally trying to get local buy-in into the marketing concept.
LTVA Executive Director Carol Chaplin said the point is to “try to bring us all together with one single focus, with a single message.”
The idea is for customers to see “blue” throughout the community once they get here, not have it just be in ad campaigns outside the basin.
Chaplin gave a presentation to the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association on Aug. 14. With little discussion, the association agreed to pony up $750 to sponsor the Blue Experience award. This is just one of the Blue Ribbon Awards.
The awards are how LTVA is trying to get the local business person to see the relevance of the Blue World and to promote it.
Winners in all four categories can be any individual or business on the South Shore. However, the chamber of commerce based in Nevada has a big role in this event. Nomination forms are on its website at www.tahoechamber.org and the number to call for information is for that chamber’s PR woman at (530) 544-5050, ext. 220.
Danny Freemon who is on the lodging board and a member of the chamber of commerce based in California said his chamber has been giving out awards like this for the last six months.
“We have a whole list of people we have given awards out to,” Freemon said.
The winners will be announced Nov. 6 at noon at the Horizon. The deadline for entries is noon Oct. 3.
The awards include Blue Experience. The brochure says, “Think about a business that makes you feel special, welcomed and wanting to recommend and return.”
The Service award winner must be nominated by a peer, employer or customer.
The Entrepreneur award will go to someone who “has created a unique business, service or product that has already created a buzz in our community.”
The Green award is for the “person or business that has made an effort to significantly improve and protect our environment by implementing a green service or program.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gloria Steinen on Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message

By Gloria Steinem
September 4, 2008

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that
the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the
Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female
president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have
gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can
vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the
sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in
through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time
boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him
opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never
about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for
women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are
many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is
no way
to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin
nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and
speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more
twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is
owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty
everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's
does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying,
stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even
issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do
the job
because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't
the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the
spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has
background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37
years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last
about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that
until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every
day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much
on the
war in Iraq."

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular,
she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to
give a
$1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's
campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state
or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long
he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not
lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration
as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on
guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is
a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin
of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference
form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing
the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter
reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have
chosen a
woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about
someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of
McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who
determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about
issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that
creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global
warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of
wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only"
programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases
abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to
wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school
system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she
with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million
subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports
drilling in
the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for
lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle
Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she
it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil
but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't
echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs.
she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or
she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as
human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that
also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is
Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely
waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting
Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains
this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and
women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist
of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support
Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite
into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time
than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a
stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the
until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning
their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the
Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now
Barack Obama.

Eve Ensler speaks about Palin

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following about Sarah Palin.

Drill, Drill, Drill (from Eve Ensler's blog)

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?
Eve Ensler
posted September 8, 2008

Sept. 28 road delays in Tahoe


(SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.)— Motorists should expect road delays on
Highway 89 Sunday, September 28 for the Lake Tahoe Marathon.

Residents and visitors on the West Shore traveling northbound should
plan to arrive in Tahoe City before 8 a.m. or wait until after 10
a.m. as traffic will be held at many West Shore neighborhoods for
runners. The Marathon starts in Tahoe City at 8:30 a.m. and the road
typically opens behind the participants at a rate of 11 minutes per
mile. Sunnyside to Tahoe City is usually open at 8:52 a.m. in both
directions, and Homewood to Tahoe City is open at 9:36 a.m. in both

In South Lake Tahoe, Highway 89 northbound traffic will be closed
three miles north of Camp Richardson at Spring Creek Road from 7 a.m.
to 1:30 p.m. Highway 89 southbound traffic will be open, however,
motorists are subject to 30 to 45-minute delays.

Runners and walkers have a host of events to choose from during the
Lake Tahoe Marathon Race Week (September 24-28), including the
Marathon, coined “a Sunday morning run you’ll never forget;” Tahoe
Triple (three marathons in three consecutive days); Marathon Relay;
Half Marathon; Three-Day Triathlon; 10K; 20-Miler Run, Jog and Walk;
5K; Kayaking events; Bike Races; Free Kids Fun Run and Speed Golf.

For more information or to register (fees vary for events), call
530-544-7095 or visit the Lake Tahoe Marathon website at
www.laketahoemarathon.com. The website is also home to a course map
and profile and event descriptions.

USFS seeks comments on aspens

South Lake Tahoe, Calif. -- The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public
comment on a proposal to restore aspen stands in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Aspen Community Restoration Project would restore approximately
1,115 acres of aspen stands over the next ten years. Aspen stands
provide important habitat for many plant and animal species, yet they
comprise only two percent of the landscape on the LTBMU.

The project would target aspen stands that are at moderate or higher
risk of loss and are not included in another project. Fire suppression
efforts have increased fuel loading in aspen stands, which can lead to
increased burn severity and duration, resulting in the loss the aspen

Aspen stands are adapted to frequent, low-intensity, low-duration
wildfire. Once treated to desired conditions, aspen stands often act as
natural firebreaks. Conifer encroachment can suppress the water table
locally and accelerate invasion by other conifers, which prefer drier
conditions than aspen do. Restoring aspen stands to desired conditions
can help restore the local water table.

Treatments would focus on creating stands in which the upper canopy is
dominated by aspen, with less than 25 percent of the canopy comprised of
conifers. Treated stands would experience vigorous aspen regeneration.

The project would use several types of treatments to restore aspen
stands – including mechanical or hand thinning of conifers, removal of
aspen trees to promote root stimulation and stand regeneration, aspen
root separation and prescribed fire.

Aspen root separation consists of physically separating roots from the
nearest trees to stimulate aspen suckering, either mechanically or by
hand. Prescribed fire could be used as a primary or subsequent to
thinning treatments. Fire intensity would be light to moderate surface
fire and duration would be limited.

Much of the project would take place in stream environment zones, and
the proposed project contains numerous features designed to reduce any
short-term impacts to these areas. In the long-term, the project would
benefit these areas by restoring them to a more natural state.

The LTBMU expects to complete National Environmental Policy Act analysis
on the project by the end of the year and would begin treatments as
early as January 2009 using Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act
funding available for the project.

Complete project information is available on the LTBMU web site at
http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/projects/ or by calling project leader
Victor Lyon at (530) 543-2749. Comments on the project will be most
helpful if received by October 7, 2008.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sept. 17 LTUSD community meeting

The Board of Education believes that a community is only as strong as its schools.

Purpose: To create an environment that is conducive to a
frank and open dialogue between the District and the community
with the goal of addressing concerns, answering general questions,
and discussing the overall educational experience.
Theme: What we have.
What we need.
How we get there.
Paving the Road for Future Generations

Process: The first meeting of the Community Roundtable
will be held at the South Tahoe High School on Wednesday,
September 17, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in the Library.

This meeting will focus on High School issues. Participants can
expect to exchange views, suggestions, comments, etc. on any
subject related to high school education. A picture is worth a
thousand words, so a tour of the campus will also be provided.
The Community Roundtable is not limited to parents or staff members.

All meetings are open to anyone in the community who has
an interest in the future of education in South Lake Tahoe.

Please Contact Angie Keil at the Superintendent’s Office for
further information. (530) 541-2850 Ext. 225. akeil@ltusd.org
> Tour of STHS Facilities
> Discussion on Hot Issues
> Questions and
> Frank and Open Dialogue
6:00 P.M.
Phone: 530-541-2850
Fax: 530-541-5930
E-mail: info@ltusd.org
1021 aL Tahoe Boulevard
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tahoe's lake level

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Record highs in May. Smoky skies in June. Highest temps of the year expected this month. Thunderstorms predicted to bring rain.
That about sums up the weather forecast for the next couple of months – nothing out of the ordinary.
However, people in the water business are keeping their eyes on the Lake.
“I anticipate by late fall or early winter the Lake to be down very close to the rim,” said Garry Stone, federal water master in Reno.
Lake Tahoe’s natural rim is 6,223 feet. Full capacity is 6,229.1 feet. In late June it was sitting at 6,225.26 feet – and dropping about one-hundredth of an inch a day.
Part of the drop is evaporation. Part is the 281 cubit-feet per second of water that is sucked out of the Lake to satisfy water agreements downstream, like in Reno.
The water year runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30. On the first day of this water year the Lake was sitting at 6,225.7 feet. The low for the year was on Jan. 3 when it hit 6,224.64 feet.
It came up a little in January and February, before drooping in March and April. The record temps brought it up a bit in May as the runoff started. The high watermark for the runoff season hit June 4 at 6,225.5 feet. This is lower than the mark at the start of the water year last October.
In a wet year, the Lake level will usually max out in July. It can be August if the snow was super abundant. But that has not been the case the last two winters.
On top if being a low snow year, a condition called sublimation occurred. This is when the snowpack goes from freezing to gas state without going through the liquid stage. Low humidity, warm temps and windy conditions provoked this turn of events.
Even though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared the state in a drought, the basin is not changing how it is operating things.
Within the South Lake Tahoe Public Utility District boundaries, water rationing has been in effect since 2003 – with landscape watering occurring on alternating days. The district is 100 percent reliant on well water.
It did lose capacity during the MTBE crisis that started in 1997 and culminated in 2001 with a multi-million dollar settlement in STPUD’s favor because the fuel additive tainted the water. New wells were drilled between 1998-2005.
“This year when we put the new Bay View well at Al Tahoe online we have recapture all of the lost capacity from MTBE and we gained a little additional capacity,” said Dennis Cocking, STPUD spokesman.
With California requiring all residences be on meters by 2025, this could change use patterns when the pay structure will be per gallon and not a flat, essentially unlimited amount, as it is now. Commercial customers are already metered here.
Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons have an eye toward climate change. So does South Tahoe PUD. Cocking warns that if the Sierra snowpack “usual” winters turn into what is now considered “bad” years, that down the road his district’s aquifers could be affected.
In Nevada, the public has until Aug. 1 to comment on the report by the Climate Change Advisory Committee. It’s available at http://gov.state.nv.us/ClimateSurvey.asp.

Restoring the Upper Truckee River

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Laurel Ames remembers playing at the Lake Tahoe Golf Course and in Washoe Meadows State Park before either existed.
She shakes her head at what the land has become.
On a tour of that portion of the Upper Truckee River, Ames, who was once executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, asks if getting rid of the golf course is a possibility.
“Yes,” says Cyndie Walck, engineering geologist with the California State Parks.
Walck is giving a tour of the river area that is being considered for restoration. The League arranged two outings, one on June 29 that had about 16 people and the other on June 30 with more than 30 people.
This section of the Upper Truckee, which is the largest of the 63 tributaries into Lake Tahoe, is one of five areas that is proposed for restoration. The river is of such concern because is brings more sediment into the Lake than any other stream.
In the 1940s and 1950s, meanders that flowed into the Truckee were cutoff by bulldozers. Logs were floated down the river during the Comstock Era in the 1800s. Grazing replaced logging.
“When you cut off all the meanders you are going from A to B in a shorter distance. This increases the slope,” Walck said. “The ability to erode is related to the slope and depth. As it erodes it becomes a greater slope so you have a greater depth.”
This portion of the river used to flood its banks about every two years. Now it might be ten years. Flooding is a good thing environmentally.
“Meadows are the lungs, the filter systems for these rivers,” Walck said.
Flooding means the meadow is getting saturated, that the ground water is replenished, that riparian habitat is abundant and that the eco-system is in check.
“It’s pretty sad what we’ve done to it,” Ames said of the river.
She said restoring the river is the most important environmental issue facing the entire Lake Tahoe Basin.

Options for the links

An environmental impact report and environmental impact statement are being prepared, with a draft likely in early 2009. Five alternatives are proposed.
One alternative is to do nothing. Walck said this is a real possibility because the golf course is such a revenue generator for the parks system – about $950,000 a year. It ranks between Hearst Castle and Morro Bay. The latter is home to the only other golf course on state park land.
EDAW, an international consulting firm with an office in Stateline, is conducting an economic study to see what the alternatives’ impacts would be to the economy.
In was somewhat by accident the park system acquired Lake Tahoe Golf Course.
The front nine were built in 1959, the back nine in 1964. The owners wanted to build a housing development called Lake Country Estates in the 1970s. TRPA sued. A decade later the regulatory agency prevailed.
Part of the settlement was the state parks system take over the links. The course took on its current name then. American Golf Corp. became the concessionaire in 1984 and still has those rights.
Another alternative is to do away with the golf course.
Another would reduce it to nine holes.
Another would keep things as they are, but to do a full geomorphic restoration.
The fifth alternative is to move part of the course to the other side of the river and design it more links-style. Hole 6 would go across the river. Nine holes would be constructed in Washoe Meadow State Park. Hole 16 would bring golfers back to the east side of the river. Holes 8 and 9 would essentially become holes 17 and 18.
Jeff Stange, general manager of the golf course, said his patrons would like the course to stay as it is.
“The way it’s laid out now it is a really good golf course,” Stange said by phone. “People are used to this layout. They are afraid of what the new layout will look like.”
He said in May and October it’s 70 percent locals on the course. During the summer tourists outnumber locals 60 to 40 percent.
American Golf Corp.’s contract expires in April 2009. Lange said internal discussions are ongoing about what to do about the future.
“We want to do what is right for the Lake and the golf community as a whole,” Stange said. “State parks is doing a good job of reviewing every option.”
He said if the course is redesigned, that it could be world class. If it stays as is, upgrades could be made to use less water for irrigation. As it stands now, little fertilizer is used. Monitoring wells are in place to make sure none leaches into the river.
During hearings in September-October 2006 the public was not thrilled with moving the course into the state park and closer to homes in the Country Club Drive area.
Ruth, who didn’t want to give her last name, was on the tour June 30. The Elk Grove woman owns a cabin with her Bay Area sister near where the course may be relocated. She was on the outing to see how it would affect her.
Phil Stevenson, who lives off North Upper Truckee, said, “This looks like a canal to me.” He thinks restoring the river to its original curviness makes sense.

More restoration

Other projects along the Upper Truckee River are in various stages. Even though the environmental improvement program has 25 active projects along the river, the bulk of the work is broken down into five areas.
Downstream from the golf course is the Sunset Stables project. The League is giving a tour of that project site on July 16 from 5:30-7pm. With it being a joint project between the California Tahoe Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service, someone from CTC will lead the tour. For information, call Raina Patrocinio of the League at (530) 541-5388 or email her at raina@keeptahoeblue.org.
Depending on how the process goes, improvement could begin on that stretch next year. It would be a three-year project.
Starting this month is work on the city owned portion of the river at Lake Tahoe Airport. This will tie into the stream environmental zone work being done as the runway is rebuilt.
Earlier this month the city was waiting for permits from the state Department of Fish & Game and the Army Corps of Engineers before it could start on the nearly $6.5 million project. The council accepted the funding at its July 1 meeting. Most of the money is from the Conservancy and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
“Basically we are making the river meander more than it currently does. Right now it is fairly straight,” said Jennifer Quickel, assistant engineer with the city. “We are adding habitat structures to allow for better fish passage.”
About 43,000 cubic-yards of fill will be excavated this year to create a new channel. About 4,000 linear feet of channel will be restored. The three-year project will affect about 28 acres.
The CTC board will tour the project site this month.
In between the airport-river section and Cove East is private land. The Conservancy is working with the land owner for easement rights to do work in there.
Even though a portion of Cove East wetlands was brought back to life near the mouth of the river in the past few years, CTC wants to do more. The environmental review process for that project is under way, while construction could start in 2011.
“We want to do something to the river to get it into a more natural meander. We want to get it to overbank more often like it historically would have,” said Adam Lewandowski, CTC wildlife program coordinator.
Many environmental projects in the basin address just one issue, like water quality. Proponents of the multiple Upper Truckee River restoration projects point to them being multifaceted.
“Rather than doing a single resource approach we are trying to cover a lot of things at once. In that way it is pretty efficient,” Lewandowski said. Water quality, vegetation and wildlife are some of the areas that will be addressed in all river projects.

Tennis in Tahoe

july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Winter sports may get the bulk of the ink around these parts, but drive by the few tennis courts that exist on the South Shore and its evident this racket sport is thriving.
The problem is the lack of public courts. New this year is public access to the six courts at South Tahoe High School. For as long as most people can remember they have been locked unless being used by the high school teams or Tahoe Tennis Academy.
The academy, now in its 11th year, was started by Pat Fagen. Justin Clark is the pro teaching the kids. About 100 youths of all ability levels participate each summer. All classes are Monday-Thursday from 10am to 4pm.
This means the courts are open to the public when not being used by the academy. According to LTUSD Superintendent Jim Tarwater, the academy must post its hours on the courts so the public knows when it can play.
Fagen said he pays the district $50 per academy student. The district and academy share the expense of resurfacing the courts about every three years.
Four other district courts are open to the public at South Tahoe Middle School. Those were resurfaced in the last couple of years.

Indoor courts?

“My dream would be to have covered tennis courts,” Tarwater said.
The only indoor tennis court on the South Shore is at Ridge Tahoe. To play on it a person has to own a timeshare there or be a guest.
South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Ted Long has bandied about the idea of an indoor tennis facility for a number of years. Although he isn’t much of a player, his wife and daughter wield a pretty mean racket.
“We have two possibilities we are working on,” Long said. “I’m hoping by (sometime this month) that we will be able to make a decision and get some real numbers together.”
The more expensive alternative he proposes, and the one he prefers, is to relocate the city’s corporate yard by the recreation center to the industrial park area.
“We could take that property and build a new facility that would house indoor courts,” Long said.
He said he has about $200,000 in private money to build indoor courts. He realizes that may be a drop in the bucket for what is actually needed. He envisions four to six courts being built there.
“For me it’s like the ice rink. No one anticipated the amount of hockey we would have. I think the same thing would happen in winter with tennis players,” Long said. “My idea is to develop a membership program for locals so they could get a good deal like at the swimming pool and ice rink.”
The other location Long is entertaining is on school district property. Two old, dilapidated courts near the ball fields are not being used for tennis.
Tarwater said the district has some coverage issues to take care of with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency before that area could be considered. A decision is expected soon regarding the artificial turf field at the STMS track. As it stands now it is coverage. If the edict is not changed, LTUSD would remove the old concrete to keep the turf.
Coverage is bound to always be an issue because one court is 7,200-square-feet.
Long thinks four indoor courts would work at that the school site.
“It expands our recreation capacity,” Long said. “We have a golf course, we have a dog park, disc golf, swimming and now we would have tennis.”
Douglas County Parks & Recreation Director Scott Morgan said it’s possible as the county reworks what it is doing with various facilities at the Lake that indoor courts could be part of the discussion.
Fagen spearheaded efforts for indoor courts at Lake Tahoe Community College.
“One of our main goals as a tennis academy is to either put together public or private indoor and outdoor courts,” Fagen said. “The way I see it now, we need to raise about $3 million to buy the land. I think there is a lot of growth potential for tennis in town and this area.”
The U.S. Tennis Association has grants South Tahoe may qualify for.
Cynthea Preston, dean of instruction at LTCC, remembers Fagen approaching the institution but the topic faded away.
“We had some land we were going to use for that,” Preston said of the proposed tennis facility. “It wasn’t something the college had money for. We certainly do have land and tennis courts are in our master plan.”
Tennis is no longer offered as a college class. Classes have been conducted at Tahoe Paradise, Lakeland Village and Zephyr Cove. Preston said part of the problem is the lack of courts.
Kyle Horvath was the last college tennis instructor. He is the head pro at Zephyr Cove, which has six lighted courts. He leases the courts from Douglas County.
He said the off court time required by LTCC got to be too much for him. It was hard to make meetings, his grades were late and the distance from the courts to the campus played a significant role. Now he teaches basically the same classes he did at the college, but the money goes to him.
The membership fees which range from $45 to $60 for the May 1 to Oct. 31 season go directly to the park for maintenance and upkeep. Horvath makes his money through lessons, clinics and tournaments.
Horvath is also one of the few people in town who strings racquets.

Courts around town

Douglas County used to operate two courts on Douglas County School District land. They were closed off two years ago because huge sink holes formed from the fill that was used when they were first created.
Those courts are going to be excavated so the school district can resolve some of its coverage issues as it erects a new gym at Whittell High.
At the opposite end of the South Shore, Tahoe Paradise’s courts look like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
“The courts are not in tip top shape. They are in pretty bad shape,” Tahoe Paradise park manager Steve Dunn said.
Only two of the three courts are playable. It costs $5 for two people to play for an hour. Dunn said the park receives about $50,000 a year from Measure S bond money that goes for maintenance for the entire 58-acre park that sits near the Truckee River.
Tahoe Keys has seven courts scattered throughout the development. The catch is you must be a homeowner or staying in the Keys to play. The group of four courts on Ala Wai Boulevard was closed off much of last year for repairs.
Ed Morrow, general manager of Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, said they should be ready for play sometime this summer.
“We have quite a large tennis community,” Morrow said. The nets on the Venice Drive courts were up in early April. “To my knowledge there has been no suggestion of an (indoor) bubble. If we had enough interest in it, that would be a board decision.”
A couple roots are coming up on the court near the Lake.
“It will probably be open before the repairs are done because it’s not that serious,” Morrow said. “Snow is hard on tennis courts.”
Other courts around the area are also limited to guests – like at Lakeland Village and MontBleu. Others are at private residences.

SLT police department issues

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Because the rankings for people going through the hiring process at South Lake Tahoe Police Department are off limits the Tahoe Mountain News cannot accurately discern if nepotism has taken place.
At issue is whether City Councilwoman Kathay Lovell’s son received preferential treatment in being hired as a patrol officer.
“On your question as to whether or not rankings of officers on hiring lists are public record, no, they are not. They are encompassed under human resources personnel records. Those are exempt under government code.”
City Attorney Cathy DiCamillo’s ruling makes it hard to know if Ryan Wagoner received favoritism when hired by the department. He will graduate from the Sacramento sheriff’s academy July 17 – the last step before becoming a sworn officer for South Lake.
Current officers spoke to the Mountain News off the record. No evidence of preferential treatment was provided, though officers said it’s possible during the interview process if the candidate is someone the panel knows.
Who was on the interview panel was also not disclosed so it is unknown if they knew Wagoner or knew who his mother is. Nor can it be assumed that knowing Wagoner or Lovell would mean preferential treatment – just the opposite could occur.
Lovell and city staff say she was not aware of her son’s intentions until he qualified for the academy. Police Chief Terry Daniels knew Wagoner was a candidate.
“Most people on the panel did not know who he was. The process was very transparent. He did not receive preferential treatment,” Daniels said. “He is a gifted young man, he doesn’t need extra points. It is insulting to him.”
Emails to the paper initiated the investigation. Concrete evidence of illegal or unethical maneuvers was neither provided nor later unearthed.
Everyone must pass a series of tests, as well as the academy. No one can cheat or be passed forward at that level because they know someone. In fact, in Wagoner’s class, 40 percent failed.

Lovell’s actions

Questions have also been raised about Lovell’s voting record when it comes to police matters. A review of her votes indicates she did not vote on most items.
Lovell was absent from the May 6 meeting because of back surgery. The council approved the police supervisors contract then.
At the March 18 council meeting, Lovell recused herself when it came time to vote on the contract agreements with the police officers association and with the city’s safety management association.
Recusing means physically leaving the room so as not to influence any discussion on the subject. Abstaining means a person does not vote, but stays in the room.
On the June 17 consent agenda were contract agreements for the non-sworn police department employees and non-represented group. The latter includes the police chief. Lovell again recused herself.
It is no secret Lovell’s husband, Lt. Les Lovell of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, is best friends with Police Chief Terry Daniels.
“During closed session she will recuse herself on police supervisors (discussions) because it could affect her husband,” explained City Clerk Susan Alessi. The sheriff’s department sometimes uses South Tahoe’s police wages when doing salary comparisons.
When it comes to voting for equipment or accepting grants that benefit the police department, DiCamillo allows Lovell to vote. The thinking is the items don’t benefit one person. A new vehicle, for example, could be shared by all officers.
Lovell has never made it a secret that public safety is her priority in respect to city business. She campaigned on that platform.

New recruits

In the past year, 54 candidates for the police department passed the initial screening. More than 20 were from the greater Tahoe-Reno area.
“These 54 candidates are the candidates who passed the panel interview and exam process -- the 54 includes candidates for untrained, pre-trained, and lateral recruitments,” explained Human Resources Manager Janet Emmett.
Thirteen have been hired. Seven were sent to a police academy for six months because they had no training. Six of the seven were from the general area. Two were in the department’s Explorer program. One did not make it through the academy.
Daniels said on average about 30 percent fail out of the police academy.
Four of the hires had been officers in Nevada. They were designated as trainees until completing the nearly three-week California Police Officer Standards and Training certification. Three of them were local.
Two other hires had their POST certificates. One was local.
Despite all the local hires, Emmett said they do not get preferential treatment. She and Daniels did acknowledge recruiting efforts were targeted in the region because the thinking is locals are more apt to stay for the long haul.
Between June and September four men and one woman will graduate from area academies and be ready to be on patrol.
Matt Morrison graduated June 19. He was sworn in June 25. Russell Liles, a friend of Wagoner’s, will graduate with his buddy this month. Justin Brock and Darla Matheson are scheduled to graduate in September.
It costs the city about $35,000 for each candidate to go through the academy.

Hiring process

The department has an application people fill out. Resumes are also collected.
To continue on, candidates must pass the POST written test. It’s a pass-fail exam. The city department also asks for an essay. This is go gauge writing skills, grammar, penmanship and the like.
Those still in the running go before a three-person oral board. The board is usually made up of a supervisor, officer and civilian. Everyone is asked the same questions.
Then a captain or lieutenant interviews the candidates.
The applicants are given a score by the panel.
Daniels discusses with the oral board who they think the best candidates are. Those individuals are then offered conditional jobs.
Because the scores are not public information, it is not known if the candidates were taken in order or cherry picked or given preferential treatment.
All still must pass the background check, medical exam, psychological profile and polygraph.
Speeding up the background test is not an option, Daniels said. He said some are completed faster if the person hasn’t traveled much or had many jobs because it means there is less to check.
Once all of those criteria are passed, the person is hired as a trainee. After the academy, the person is a sworn officer.

Department concerns

“Once the patrol staff is up to full complement we will take some veteran police officers and select detectives,” Daniels said. The department pulled its representative to the FBI to have two detectives on staff. Two more will be added down the road.
With a statewide shortage of more than 12,000 officers, South Lake has had a hard time recruiting people from other departments. Part is location and the high cost to live here and part is salary.
The latest contract has the lowest paid sworn officer making $24.41 an hour. They top out at $30.86. Overtime regular boosts the rate of pay. Detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and the chief all make more.
Some of the veterans are wondering if the days when the SWAT team, bike and boat patrols were fully staffed will return.
Morale has been a much debated topic for the entire two years Daniels has been at the helm. Even though he has been with the department for 25 years, his ascension to the top spot has not been smooth.
Daniels believes morale issues come from within; that individuals must be responsible for themselves. He is by admission not a touchy-feely manager.
Some officers believe an atta-boy (or girl) would go a long ways. Some believe managers are not being effective leaders.
“We’ve lost four good cops for morale, not just money,” an officer said. This person said management doesn’t want officers talking to the media – that it’s bad for morale.
A mandatory meeting of all police staff took place for several hours on July 9. Because of deadlines, the outcome of it is not known.
Those on the street question some of the promotions as well. A good ole boy network is how they describe the internal workings. Though some officers acknowledge there will always be people who are unhappy no matter who has chief before their name.
Another officer said Daniels doesn’t help morale when he refuses to help out. Other police chiefs have worked patrol and dispatch when staffing has been short. As it is now, the officers are working tons of overtime.
While it was mandatory for all patrol officers to work July 4, Daniels took that Friday off.

Prep for November disaster drill

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Seiche – add it to your vocabulary because one is coming.
The wave that occurs in a lake after a seismic event is predicted to hit South Lake Tahoe sometime Nov. 6. That 20-foot wall of water will arrive after a substantial subterranean earthquake strikes Mount Rose. A large chunk of that mountain will cascade into Lake Tahoe.
This isn’t some sci-fi movie script. It’s something scientists in the region have been studying and predicting will occur.
The governor’s Office of Homeland Security isn’t waiting for the real thing to strike before ensuring people are prepared for the mega-disaster.
South Lake Tahoe officials approached the state office about two years ago, well before the Angora Fire, seeking assistance with its emergency preparedness model.
The seiche will test the region.
On June 26 more than 60 people gathered at Embassy Suites to formulate a plan. The six tables represented a key sector in any disaster: local emergency responders, hospital personnel, public-environmental health, animal advocates, utilities, and state agencies.
Besides South Lake Tahoe, every county around the Lake is likely to be involved, departments of transportation, major land holders like the U.S. Forest Service and state parks, Cal Fire, Red Cross, humane societies, and all public safety departments. Mono and Inyo counties are also participating in what’s called Golden Guardian 2008.
“Whether it’s Mother Nature or terrorist events, they don’t care about state lines,” said Steve Turner, with the state Office of Homeland Security, when indicating Nevada agencies are involved as well. “We need to focus on the mission, not the agencies.”
The thrust of that Thursday’s activities was for the people at the table to figure out what they would have to do on the first day, then for the second through tenth days, and then for recovery efforts.
Jim Woodward with the state Office of Homeland Security is planning the exercise. He said even though the people involved will have thought out nearly every contingency, they will be faced with curveballs during the event, just like in a real disaster. This will test how they adapt, react and handle the unknowns.
“This really is an exercise, not a plan you just dust off,” Turner said.
Communication – with each other, their own people and the public – will be a common goal of each group from the get-go. This is something that was lacking in the early stages of last summer’s Angora Fire.
Some of the participants voiced a desire to have the public more involved, if just by letting them know what to do in a disaster – what supplies to have, what to take, where to go, how not to add to the chaos.
A smaller, separate group is looking at devising a community guide that could be updated annually with key telephone numbers and addresses.

Celebrity golf in Lake Tahoe

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Charles Barkley’s $100,000 donation to Angora Fire survivors as well as his tour of the devastation last year during the celebrity golf tournament has not been forgotten.
The former NBA star will be honored with a plaque at Edgewood Tahoe and have one placed in the burn area as well. July 11 is being proclaimed Charles Barkley Day on the South Shore.
Barkley is back in town for the July 8-13 American Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament at Edgewood Tahoe.
Even though Bret Favre bailed, more than 80 celebrities will tee-off this month. Donald Trump accepted and declined the invitation to play twice. Each year NBC Sports, which owns the event, tries to have 20 percent of the field be new faces.
Last year Jack Wagner’s girlfriend Heather Locklear caused quite a buzz. If Jessica Simpson turns up to root on Tony Romo, it would likely cause even a bigger scene. A Simpson sighting could mean topping last year’s attendance record which was close to 27,000.
The winner of the 19th annual event takes home $125,000. The total purse is $600,000.
Exactly how much money the tournament brings to the South Shore is unknown. Former Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority leader Patrick Kaler said he was going to get a handle on that number. He never did.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is the host hotel. Pretty much everything is free for the celebrities except airfare. John Packer, spokesman for Harrah’s-Harveys, chose not to comment on the economic impact to his properties.
Hotels on the California side benefit from the six-day event, especially the ones within walking distance to Edgewood.
“It’s definitely not an all-Nevada event,” said Jerry Bindel, president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association and general manager of Lakeland Village. He surmises 5 percent of his guests that week come for the golf tournament.
One of the biggest benefits of the tournament is media coverage. NBC Sports broadcasts live weekend. Scenic shots are shown before and after each commercial.
Last year 1,850 articles were written about the tournament. Phil Weidinger of Weidinger Public Relations says the media coverage is worth in excess of $2 million.
Mountain West Aviation is the one South Lake business to definitely reap big bucks from the tournament. General Manager Joel Waddell said the celebrities don’t flinch at $6.25/gallon for Jet A fuel.
“My ramp is full to the point where we have a hard time parking any jets and this is a huge ramp,” Waddell said.
Planes in excess of 6,000 pounds pay a landing fee that ranges from $22 to $705.
“Some come on a small Citation, some on a Global Express 5. A G5 is very big. It’s a 75,000-pound aircraft,” Waddell.

Firewood available

The Forest Service has firewood permits for sale that are good through Oct. 30.
The US Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin
Permits are $20 per cord, with a two-cord minimum and 10-cord maximum per household.
Permits are available at 35 College Drive in South Lake Tahoe or by calling (530) 543-2694. Maps to designated cutting areas will be provided, and must be in your possession along with the valid permit when obtaining wood.
The wood must be downed, meaning it is on the ground and dead, rather than dead and standing. There is no cutting of dead standing wood.

Share a ride to the slopes

Lake Tahoe online lift ticket retailer SnowBomb.com has been awarded a grant from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District to further develop and implement
its ski/snowboard specific online ride sharing program.
In winter 2008, SnowBomb partnered with Kirkwood Mountain Resort to launch the first version of the program on Kirkwood.com. Within 24 hours of the launch, more than 500 participants were registered. By season’s end Kirkwood had nearly 2,000 members interacting online. It is estimated that about 1,000 cars were kept off the region’s highways last season because of the ride share program.
The $25,000 grant will be used to further develop and market the user-friendly, online ride sharing software for Alpine, Homewood, Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley.
To see or sign up for the online ride sharing program, visit SnowBomb.com or Kirkwood.com and look for the carpooling links.

South Lake hotels fined

Two South Lake Tahoe motels were targeted in last month’s sting by the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcements.
The Sky Lake Lodge was fined $2,000 and Bears’ Den Inn received a $1,000 fine for workers’ compensation violations.
The state handed out 23 citations during the June 11-12 crackdown. Those citations span eight counties and total $52,250 in fines. Sixty motels were targeted.
Four other hotels in El Dorado County were part of the investigation, but did not receive fines.

Temporary forest closures

The U.S. Forest Service is closing two segments of land on the West Shore to e for public safety reasons because of the ongoing mechanical treatment operations to reduce hazardous forest fuels.
The closures affect Ward units nine and 11, located between Silver Tip and Forest Road 15N60, south of Tahoe City. The closure will be through Sept. 26, weekdays only, from 7am to 6pm. All public entry into the unit -- walking, vehicle or mountain biking -- is prohibited under these closures.
For more information, call Robert Guebard at (530) 543-2684.

Old cell phones being collected

After the National Sheriff’s Association initiated a safety program in 1988 for the country’s senior citizens known as TRIAD, Douglas County was one of the first to establish a program.
The sole source of funding for Douglas County TRIAD is grants and donations made by charitable organizations and private persons. That is drying up. Additional funding became available through the nonprofit organization Cell Phone Bank.
Cell Phone Bank recycles old cell phones and batteries, and returns the profits to senior citizen programs such as TRIAD. With money from this program, Cell Phone Bank issues new cell phones to local area TRIADs for seniors
Douglas County’s Lake Tahoe sheriff’s office is collecting old cell phones. For more information, call Deputy Teresa Duffy at (775) 783-6441.

Bus service issues in Tahoe

The South Tahoe Area Transit Authority started serving the Kingsbury Transit Center located in Stateline last month.
Even thought the facility was built in 2007 the transit board of directors didn’t authorize the transit center’s use until its meeting on June 13.
BlueGo Nevada Flex, Casino Shuttle Club Route, Casino Shuttle Diamond
Route, Kingsbury Timeshare, Kingsbury Express, Nifty 50 Trolley Route C,
Heavenly Blue Route and Heavenly Green Route will serve this facility in both the eastbound and westbound directions. Buses will stop next to the County Administrative Center behind the Visitors Center.

Tahoe amusement park closed

Don’t look for the amusement park in South Lake Tahoe to operate anytime soon.
The city’s zoning administrator called a meeting in June to deal with the site under the nuisance abatement code because the rides are falling apart.
The people who operated the park next to the miniature golf facility, which has different owners, will not operate the rides this summer.
However, Marjorie Springmeyer, who owns the land leased by the ride operators, had an attorney represent her at last month’s meeting.
“They were not in a position to clean it up and would like the ability to reopen it possibly next year,” said Teri Jamin, community development director, of the amusement park.

Keeping particles out of Lake Tahoe

july 08 unedited tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Fine particles mucking up the visibility of Lake Tahoe ignited fireworks between El Dorado County Supervisor Jack Sweeney and Lahontan Water Board engineer Bob Larson.
Larson was tasked with giving the Board of Supervisors an update on total maximum daily load stats when the group met for its once a year Tahoe meeting on June 24 at Lake Tahoe Golf Course.
Sweeney jumped all over Larson when it was disclosed an estimated $1.5 billion is needed in the next 15 years to prevent particles from reaching the Lake. Of that, about $1.3 million would just be fore water quality.
“This county doesn’t have this kind of money and I don’t know where it’s going to get it and I don’t think the city of South Lake Tahoe has it,” Sweeney said. “If Lahontan wants to clean up Lake Tahoe, it needs to work with the state and feds to get more grant money. There’s no way we can slap the citizens of the basin (with this).”
Larson explained its not just Lahontan, but water boards throughout the country, which must deal with reducing TMDL per the federal Clean Water Act. He added that about $1 billion has been spent in the last ten years in Lahontan’s jurisdiction on all environmental improvement projects, so that sum of money has been attainable.
Larson explained how science has proved that it’s the fine particles – or brown substance, not the green algae – that prevents Lake Tahoe from being as clear as it was years ago. He said the particles are thinner than a strand of human hair.
“The primary cause of the loss of clarity is urbanization in the last 30 years,” Larson said.
Sweeney said he had not been made aware of public hearings Lahontan has had to gather public input. Larson says the process has been public and directed Sweeney to the agency’s website if he wants to read report after report on TMDL.
Sweeney asked if a California Environmental Quality Control document is required. Affirmative, Larson said. Sweeney pointed out these documents don’t look at economic realities of doing the projects.
The next TMDL meeting Lahontan is conducting will be July 17 from 4-6pm at Lake Tahoe Community College.

Angora -- John weighs options

july 08 unedited tahoe mt. news

Editor's note: This is a monthly article following one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire in summer 2007.

By Kathryn Reed

It is down to a numbers game for John Mauriello. He thought he’d know before Fourth of July what the future holds for him, but his insurance adjuster went on vacation.
Sometime this month The Hartford, his insurer through AARP, is expected to come back with a dollar amount to settle the total loss of his house on Mount Olympia Circle from last summer’s Angora Fire. One amount will have him rebuild, one will have him looking to buy somewhere else on the South Shore.
On June 17, Mauriello was with the adjuster in Montgomery Estates to show the guy an almost identical house to the one he lost
“He had a contractor and architect from Sacramento go through the house with a fine tooth comb,” Mauriello said. “When they built houses then they didn’t have pre-made trusses. They had lumber delivered to the job site. Trusses were custom cut. That is all money.”
Even though he says there seems to be some sort of magnet that keeps drawing people back to the burn area, he isn’t convinced he wants to stay there. He’s 69. He doesn’t have 50 years to wait for the forest to be reborn.
From the deck of his rental, which is walking distance from his barren lot, he enjoys the views of Echo. The rebuilding is encouraging. But then he turns slightly and the view is of the blackened Angora Ridge. In all about 3,100 acres went up in flames.
“I look at Tahoe Mountain. It’s dead, dead, dead,” Mauriello said.
He envisions the area being incredible again one day – he just doesn’t have the time or patience to see it happen. If the money is right, he wants to buy elsewhere.
The one-year anniversary of the day that changed his life – June 24 – was spent at the Horizon. The benefit concert for Angora survivors was not well attended, but those who did show up enjoyed the multiple bands which took the stage.
Mauriello said it was good to have someplace to go. In between listening to Elvin Bishop and the others, the retiree took a petition around to people to have them sign their name to acknowledging their desire to have the forest replanted. He’s going to keep at it. He may even wind up in front of Raley’s one Saturday with petition in hand.
The investigation is ongoing into who let the illegal campfire at Seneca Pond smolder before it became the roaring devastation known as the Angora Fire. A Tahoe resident is considered a person of interest by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and U.S. Forest Service. As of press time, no arrests had been made.
One sign that Mauriello is moving on is that conversations are more diverse – it’s not all insurance, fire and forest. He is worried about the South Shore. He worries about being told Big Dogs, Geoffrey Beene and the Chocolate Factory are leaving the Y. He wonders if the people stuck for 2.5 hours in traffic during Opening Days will bother coming back here.
Then he goes back home. He goes to water the itty-bitty trees he planed. They’ve about doubled in size to 3.5 inches. It’s that kind of progress that makes Mauriello keep believing in Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe Airport runway work

unedited july 08 tahoe mt. news

By the end of the year the runway at Lake Tahoe Airport will look completely different.
The FAA called the city on June 11 asking if it would like $5.5 million for runway construction. A few phone calls later between airport Director Rick Jenkins and the feds and the amount is now at $7 million.
The state is kicking in about $175,000 and the city will contribute approximately $190,000.
Bids close July 22. Construction is expected to begin in August.
In the aviation business, runways are usually replaced or expanded. In this case it will be smaller. The width will shrink by 50 feet so it will be 100-feet wide. The length will remain the same at 8,544 feet.
The asphalt that will be removed will be replaced with porous asphalt that abuts the runway. Next to that will be restoration of the stream environmental zone.
The SEZ restoration is the city’s restitution to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for the tree cutting brouhaha from 2006 when it felled 387 pines without a permit.
The city has wanted to resurface the runway for years, but funding was never available. The freeze-thaw factor in the winter takes its toll on asphalt.
“What we are trying to do is create a runway that has environmental benefits while at the same time satisfy our transportation needs,” Jenkins said.