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Our Views of 2009: The good, bad and truly inspirational

Our View
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It wasn’t the best of times, but it could have been a lot worse. 2009 was a tough year for government employees who endured furloughs, layoffs and, in some cases, benefits concessions. It was tough on their bosses, too, who endured difficult questions on their budget and finance decisions, as well as accountability to taxpayers. It was a challenging year for Auburn-area businesses, body-slammed by the regional housing meltdown and global economic downturn, and educational leaders who faced falling enrollment and reduced funding. But there was hope, too. The Journal editorial cheered loudly for supporting community stores and service providers, and embraced the “Think Auburn First” movement to keep local dollars local. There was the first phase of the Downtown Streetscape project, and the inspirational Placer Hillmen football season. And we said thanks to the many volunteers who make Auburn such a forgiving, compassionate and involved community. Here then, were some of the editorial highlights for 2009: One small step for State Theater, Jan. 4: “The Art Center’s leadership should be praised for the work done so far in moving forward without moving too far forward. A debt-laden project banking on future donations, in hindsight, would have been a disaster. “With a building that already has tenants and a revenue stream, the State Theater is moving forward at a steady pace that should reward the patient.” Symphony must increase its scale, March 25: “The symphony board deserves a standing ovation for launching this (capital) campaign, but it needs to think ‘outside the pit’ for more varied funding sources. “Why not take the symphony down to the American River so patrons can experience the stunning scenery with a score to match? How about playing a selection from Aaron Copland’s ballet ‘Rodeo’ at the rodeo – Auburn’s Wild West Stampede?” Public review of Shockley park bequest a must, April 5: “The (ARD) board needs to open the naming of the park to public perusal, invite input from residents, and deliberate on a suitable name in the open forum that this community deserves. It’s a process – and ultimately a decision – that reflects on all residents.” Was $4 million copter buy a smart buy for Placer County? April 29: “It seems like odd timing to make such an expensive purchase. Placer County is facing an economic recession that has caused a wage freeze. The county has demanded furloughs, is considering layoffs and is facing a decline in revenues tied to property taxes. It would be more prudent to tighten the belt now, rather than buy expensive toys.” County leaders are out of touch with residents, Aug. 2: “Each supervisor who voted for the executive pay raises owes taxpayers an explanation, and an apology. But we’re guessing that’s not coming. Why? Because they are out of touch.” Individual acts of kindness multiply in wake of 49 Fire, Aug. 9: “Though the future no doubt looks bleak for those who have lost everything, they should remember they are not in this alone. An entire community stands behind them and will attempt to see them through this tragedy.” Party shouldn’t end for Black & White Ball, Sept. 20: “It doesn’t make sense for the chamber to run the ball anymore. Let’s find the right venue, promote shuttle buses, taxis, designated drivers, camping and anything else to keep Auburn streets and citizens safe. But let’s not give up on the Black & White Ball.” City should look at vicious dog policies, Oct. 11: “It’s outrageous that after attacking and almost killing a teenager, the Auburn pitbulls were returned to their owner’s mother to keep on the same property for the night.” Trend of buying out contracts is just too costly, Nov. 12: “If there is a legitimate cause to fire a CEO, city manager, superintendent or college president, then by all means, fire for cause. But don’t give away truckloads of taxpayers’ cash because your political agenda might differ slightly from those with whom you are contractually obligated to work.” Can we talk? Time for county, deputies to settle, Dec. 10: “County leaders, especially elected county supervisors, need to speak out now on returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract for deputies and the tax-paying residents who pay their salaries. We’ve heard nary a word from supes on the issue, yet any contract that is imposed or approved must go through them.” Open checkbook on land-use case is unacceptable, Dec. 16: “Whether La Bouff’s comments about the investigation’s costs were sincere or deflectionary is hard to tell. Law enforcement and legal officials are often quick to conceal public information under the banner of ‘still under investigation,’ but this case is more than two years old – and growing colder every day. “La Bouff, Miller and the county Board of Supervisors have a fiduciary responsibility to explain how much has been spent on this case and, internally, determine how much they plan to invest in moving it forward.”