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AlCzervik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:18 PM
Original message
The economy in my little corner of the world.
I wanted to post a snap shop of what's been going on here, please add your own.

El Dorado County grounds popular bookmobile

By Todd Milbourn
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, March 15, 2008

A chapter is closing in El Dorado County.

After seven years of shuttling books to the far reaches of the rural county, the bookmobile is headed to the garage.

County officials voted to stop the service last week, as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures designed to help bridge a $14.8 million budget shortfall.

"I used to work for government, and I understand they gotta do their little thing and stamp out some costs," said Terry Whitfield, 70, a historical novel enthusiast who lives in a Placerville senior home along the route. "But I'll tell you one thing: I need my books."

El Dorado's elimination of the bookmobile is emblematic of the stark choices facing governments across the region. Confronted with staggering budget shortfalls, they are trying to make ends meet any way they can: Cutting travel. Laying off workers. Trimming programs. Raising fees.

Robert Waste, a California State University, Sacramento, government professor, calls it the "ritualistic budget dance." He said the steps are well-documented:

The first thing local governments usually do in tough budget times is announce across-the-board cuts to all departments except politically popular public safety agencies. If that's not enough, they send out a memo canceling travel, try to squeeze some money out of contracts and delay paying for big new roads or new parks.

more at link

Dixon district cuts to take toll on students

By Deb Kollars -
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Dixon Unified School District is making deep reductions in programs and services to stop a trail of red ink that turned up after the former superintendent, Roberto Salinas, negotiated a retirement buyout and left the district.

Salinas now holds a prominent position, paid through a private grant, with the state Department of Education. He said Friday he did not learn Dixon schools were in financial distress until the day he signed his buyout agreement, Sept. 28, when his chief business official broke the bad news to him.

The chief business official, Susan Rinne, left the district several weeks later and now works as the interim director of fiscal services for Solano Community College. Rinne did not respond to a Bee request for an interview.

According to Solano County Office of Education officials, the budget mess came about because of numerous and sizable accounting errors.

The resulting cuts to Dixon schools have hit the close-knit Solano County community like a fiscal tornado, coming hard, fast and out of the blue and tearing into program after program.

No school, no student age group, no tier of employees has been spared.

Come this fall in elementary schools, children will no longer have computer technicians to help them navigate the Web, or library clerks to help them research and check out books. At the gleaming new high school, counseling hours will be cut by at least one quarter, and a dozen freshman coaches will lose their stipends. Districtwide, schools next fall will receive 12 fewer hours of care each day because 1 1/2 janitorial positions will be gone. By the end of next week, one of four elementary campuses will be slated for closure.

"It has been shocking," said Dan Rott, the principal at Tremont Elementary School in Dixon. Among his school's losses: two reading teachers, the library and computer technicians, two hours of daily secretarial and health technician time and 20 percent of the materials budget.

"We're closing a school because of incompetence," said Delynda Eldridge, a mother of two Dixon schoolchildren, during a parent meeting Tuesday evening to discuss which school should go. "Now our kids are paying the price."

more at link

Elk Grove school board sets pink slip guidelines

By Melissa Nix -
Published 6:07 am PDT Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Elk Grove Unified School District board adopted a resolution 5-0 Tuesday night that determines who will get pink slips when a number of workers have the same seniority.

Board members Pamela Irey and Chet Madison Sr. were absent.

Notification is based on seniority, but in some cases, as many as 20 district employees have the same starting date.

The resolution establishes a point system to break ties in such cases, said Elizabeth Graswich, the district's director of communications.

Of the 217 positions, 137 are full-time certificated positions, including three counselors, 56 elementary teachers, 17 ninth-grade math teachers, 17 ninth-grade English teachers, six high school life science teachers, six high school social studies teachers, one high school business teacher, one world language teacher, two high school physical education teachers and 28 instructional coaches.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Another example of the success of "Conservative" policies shifting every thing of value to the Rich
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Elidor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. Our children and seniors must sacrifice
So that we can continue to kill brown people on the other side of the world. Rather than investing in infrastructure and education and health care, we're doing...uh...what are we doing in Iraq again?
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 01:46 PM
Response to Original message
3. I got a call from my financial guy this morning
in which he was honest enough to admit it was a feel-good call to calm nervous stockholders. This tells me there is real panic in the rarefied air of brokerages and banks. I've been telling him all along that I'm not falling for sucker rallies and I expect the trend to be down until Stupid is gone and the next administration either turns things around 180 degrees or allows the whole thing to collapse in order to build it up from the bottom again.

Tortillas in this town where most folks eat them instead of bread have increased in price 300%. Gas is holding steady at $3.15. I barely bother looking at fruit and veggie prices any more, just brace myself at the checkout stand for the final tab, but I did get some 20 cents a pound cabbage. Coleslaw will be on the menu all week, I guess.

The main pain I've seen in this town since the bottom dropped out of the McMansion market has been that the streets are getting much worse before they're fixed. The library and schools are still open and I hear plenty of sirens at night, indicating the cops are still on the job.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. Gas pump conversation.
I'm filling up my Prius and feeling kind of smug.
(6.7 gallons, $21.43)

On the other side of the pump is a guy in work clothes and a baseball cap. He has a large pick-up truck pulling a trailer. The trailer has 2 riding mowers, 2 week-whackers, 2 chain saws, about a half dozen 5-gallon gas cans and assorted rakes and hoes.
He is a landscaper/lawn maintenance guy.

He has finished filling the pick-up and the mowers and is starting on the gas cans. As I hang up my hose he looks back over his shoulder at the pump and, in a low voice, says "Jesus Christ".
"How bad is it?"
"Come take a look."
I walk around to his side of the pump and it reads $107.38 and still moving up. $3.199 a gallon.
"Holy shit!"
"Yeah. Tell me about it. I'm already charging my customers a gas surcharge. And I'm losing some of them. To expensive. They're cutting their own grass again."
"That's tough."
"Yeah if gas gets above $3.50 I'm done. I'm hoping I can get a job at the new steel plant."

The new plant is going in north of Mobile, about 60 miles away from our area. So if he drives that truck back and forth to work it'll cost him about $30 dollars a day if (when) gas gets to $3.50.

I thought the repugs were such big supporters of small businesses?
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Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. That's this ThyssenKrupp steel plant, right?
MOBILE, Alabama: German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG chose Alabama over Louisiana on Friday for a $3.7 billion (2.74 billion) steel plant, described by steel industry experts as the first large-scale project of its kind in the United States in decades.

Set to open in 2010, the plant will employ as many as 2,700 workers when fully running, company officials said in selecting Alabama.

The site is near Mount Vernon in the Calvert community on the Tombigbee River, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Mobile. It's on a river route to the Gulf of Mexico and near Mobile's rails and interstates.

Along with tax breaks and $400 million (297 million) in financial incentives, Alabama offered a site with a route to a Brazil plant that will provide slabs for processing in Mobile.

"It doesn't get a lot better than this," Gov. Bob Riley said at a Montgomery news conference. He described the project as "the largest economic development project in the history of this state" as well as for ThyssenKrupp, long a prominent German industrial giant.

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. That's the one. Hitler's old buddies.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
5. Another - local restaurant owner.
She's on a crusade to get local farmers to grow more consumer produce. Fruits and vegetables she can use in her restaurant. If they'll commit to devoting so many acres to stuff she can use, she'll sign exclusive contract to buy all they can produce. She's encouraging other restaurants to do the same. We're in a beach/tourist area so there are LOTS of restaurants.

"The only way I can keep my prices down is to get locally grown stuff that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to truck in."

She recently signed a contract with a nearby cattle ranch to supply all of her beef.
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tachyon Donating Member (520 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. That should long as people can afford to go to restaurants.
And be tourists.
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 03:32 PM
Response to Original message
9. We have allowed funding to be cut so drastically that federal buildings are a free-for-all.
Why would anyone worry about a thing called e.d.u.c.a.t.i.o.n.?
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