Do political checks and balances include check-kiting?

Looking behind the scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Trying to remember where the notebook is while wondering if the items on the laptops of those two wandering pilots just happened to be flight attendants ... And another “lapse” worthy of discussion is the abandonment of credibility we are supposed to achieve every time some politico-type tries to explain the latest peccadillo brought to our attention. No doubt many of us read with some disbelief last week’s column concerning the — shall we say — check-kiting going on between the local Republican Central Committee and a nimble Assemblyman from the San Diego area. Now it should be pointed out that the back-and-forth of campaign checks is not something invented nor practiced solely in these here parts. Nor is it the exclusive domain of the GOP, although a cursory look into local Democrat Party operations failed to produce a similar operation. The point I’m laboring to make is that who among us believes the check from Joel Anderson arrived completely by surprise, and it was only some sort of cosmic coincidence that it was sent back — after being sanitized — a mere two weeks later? Of course, the local party withheld a thousand bucks as a sort of administrative fee. You know how expensive postage and handling can be for that mail-order stuff. No doubt the whole thing was merely the local Republicans’ attempt at a checks-and-balances system. The local central committee strained to claim that there was no prior communication between the parties. Good point, because if there had of been, it would have been completely illegal. But c’mon. Does that central committee really expect us to believe that all of that just happened on its own? Talk about serendipity! Not only did that move completely fail the smell test, it also insults our intelligence and needs to be stopped. After all, how dumb do they think we are? Oh, most of us already know the answer to that one. ... Downsizing: Among the many things growing smaller because of the amazing shrinking economy is the proposed Baltimore Ravine project. Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson said the newest draft environmental impact report is now being distributed, and that public meetings to review it will be scheduled within the next few weeks. “The matter probably will go to the Planning Commission prior to Christmas,” Richardson said, adding that the latest proposal has “far fewer acres (he didn’t have the exact number handy) and that not only will there be more open space, but it will be better located.” Hopefully the project will somehow find room for a way to memorialize one of the state’s first stamp mills, which was located within the Ravine’s confines. According to the “Report of the State Mineralogist: 1890,” that mill was located at the Croesus Mine, and was erected around 1851. Now nobody is suggesting work be postponed because of this historic note, but some sort of sign at this former quartz-mining site might be a nice touch. ... Restaurant Rowe: Proving the veracity of the adage about tabbing a busy person if you want something done, local restaurateur Ty Rowe continues to take on new projects. No, I’m not talking about the Pumpkin Piñata, nor the appointment to the Streetscape Committee, nor his work for the betterment of Old Town, or even his catering business. Instead, this particular reference is to the Snack Shack. For the past few weeks, Rowe has been operating a luncheon eatery on the ground floor of the Oddo Building at DeWitt Center. Rowe said that after the former eatery closed down at that site “county employees had no convenient place to go for lunch. Meanwhile, I had a warehouse full of equipment, so (in the spirit of utilization), we put this thing together,” he said. The new spot, managed by Rachel Brandin, who most of us remember from Petunias, is doing quite well, according to Rowe. “There are close to 3,000 employees out there, and from what they tell us, they’re thrilled with the operation,” he added. ... Growing need: A few months ago, I wrote about Blake Willick’s Eagle Scout program in which he was transforming some acreage at the School Park Preserve site into community gardens and the like. “I was excited about the idea of providing something for the community, especially something lasting,” he said, adding that he was very grateful for the assistance (financial and in-kind) he received from local folks and businesses. If you get a chance, check out his work so far at the park just behind City Hall. “But it turns out I didn’t fully understand all that was involved in such an undertaking,” he now says, meaning that work has not been completed on schedule. According to young Willick, he could use some financial help for electrical, planters and the irrigating system. If anybody can lend a hand or provide some funds for this project, give him a call at (530) 613-5026. Thanks. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at