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Jim Ruffalo: A curmudgeon’s finger pointing is never done

Looking Behind the Scenes
By: Jim Ruffalo
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Not that anyone may have noticed, but the bulk of my columns — especially in recent weeks — seems to have been bellyaching at somebody or some thing. Now to my way of thinking, most of those screeds were well-deserved, especially when the barbs were aimed squarely at the Placer County Republican Central Committee. The cause of my concern is that there are so few of us curmudgeons still gulping fresh air, and oh so many miscreants out there, that it seems my work is never done. On the other hand, it could be asked whether those trips were really necessary. Anyway, it may be just about the right time to climb out of the skeptic system. As my new assignment editor, Polly Anna Outlook, tells me, it’s time to write about the good things. Let’s begin with the people I find the most valuable to civilization as we know it. With proper apologies to public safety and public health workers, allow me to fling a kudos or two toward our sanitary engineers. Don’t know about the Gentle Reader, but I’m certainly old enough to remember when we called them garbage men. Still, think about it, where would we be without them? Probably knee-high in stinky, slimy trash, that’s where. But once a week, usually very quietly, our garbage is removed, streets and gutters are cleaned, and unsightly litter is removed from sight. Naturally, that same clutch of kudos should also be sent to those who toil in sewage plants and the like. Think what we’d be knee-high in without them. My only complaint about sanitation is usually caused by the collective idiots at Sacramento, what with their neverending regulation changes and weird science. Proof positive that gravity indeed causes stuff to flow downhill. Local law enforcement — and I do mean local — also deserves heaps of praise. Truth is, I’ve been covering the cophouse beat for decades and can honestly report that Auburn’s Finest are just that. Same thing goes for Auburn’s Bravest, as well as for nearly every other community firefighting force in the area. There are more than a few county workers that deserve thanks, beginning with the best-run department, which most of us already realize is elections. After working many an election night, I’m always amazed at how so many different ballots are quickly and correctly collected and counted. Too bad Nevada County’s Elections Department never learned how to do that. Also, if all of us fully understood what it takes to run effective and efficient auditor’s and assessor’s offices, we’d all be including them on the list of those needing a pat on the back. Now here’s a surprise. I also want to thank many of our local elected officials, which certainly isn’t a popular thing to do these days, and, yes, I include the Placer County Board of Supervisors on that list. Certainly the supes aren’t perfect, but compared to what I’ve seen over the years, they’re light-years ahead of most. Not as an afterthought, I add the Auburn City Council to these ranks. Remembering that I reside at Lake of the Pines where an election of even the most stalwart of reformers suddenly finds the neophyte hastening over to the dark side at the first board meeting, I find it highly refreshing to watch an Auburn council meeting. Allow me to be specific. That council is made up of five completely different personalities, ranging from laissez faire to military leadership, yet despite sometimes contentious conversations, final votes are usually unanimous (unless Kevin Hanley wants to make a fiscally conservative point, God bless him). There are other praiseworthy folks out there, especially among the myriad volunteers, but I’m rapidly running out of space. If you would, and even if it’s just for this coming week, try to say “thank you” to those we seldom thank. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at jimruffalo@yahoo.com.