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Lloyd Waters: No signs of gold rush in Sacramento

November 20, 2011|By LLOYD WATERS

As I sat at a table at the Pearl on the River restaurant overlooking the scenic Sacramento River, I thought about my week’s visit to California.

When I travel, I always like to garner as much history of a new location as I can, and I like to examine the political happenings as well, for the problems in one place can often mirror those same problems in another. Solutions may be similar as well.

Early prospectors came to Sacramento in search of gold.

Who could have imagined during the great gold rush of 1849 that the price of gold today would reach $1,826.79 for one ounce?

Upon my arrival at the airport on Monday, I struck up a conversation with a local farmer.  I asked him about the immigration problem in California.

“Farmers are always in search of good labor to harvest the crops,” he told me. “From my personal perspective,” he continued, “if we didn’t have the immigrants to work the fields, the crops would not get harvested. Americans today are not eager to do the manual work, and the immigrants work all day without complaint for $10 an hour.”

Another perspective of the immigration issue in a state where unemployment is near 12 percent.

As I traveled about 40 miles north of Sacramento to the town of Marysville, I was a little intrigued by the name. When I asked a local just how the town received its name, he told me that Marysville was named after Mary “Murphy” Cavillaud, who was one of the survivors of the Donner Party.

The Donner party, you might recall, was on its way to a better life in California from Illinois when they became trapped by a horrific snowstorm, exhausted their food supply and resorted to cannibalism in an effort to survive.

An interesting tidbit, I thought.

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Some prison news.

When California came up with the “three strikes and you’re out” idea some years back to address the problem of habitual criminals, the voters never much thought about the cost. As a result, some 20 new prisons were built to accommodate the required bed space and the public safety budget ballooned.

Today, California has discovered it can no longer support that premise.

Some ideas to remedy the problem include releasing nonviolent prisoners back into the community; contracting with Mexico to keep some of the felons; and, most recently, returning some of the short-term offenders back to the county jails.        

As you might suspect, the county facility budgets will also increase as the state attempts to come to grips with their budget woes.

I wondered why no one had the vision to calculate the cost of locking up so many criminals and building so many prisons before it became a problem.

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On the front page of The Sacramento Bee, the headlines read, “Sewers are fiscal time bomb — Cost to replace aging pipes estimated to be $2.4 billion.”

Yep, a little gold would be nice today in Sacramento.

I thought about that particular problem, the Great Depression, and wondered how Franklin Roosevelt might have helped solve that problem and create some jobs as well.

A perfect opportunity to create some real jobs I thought. Will it happen? Given today’s gridlock in Washington, I’d have to say no.

Finally, I read in the same newspaper about the development of suburban shopping malls some years ago in both Fresno and Sacramento, and as a result how the decline in those inner cities was continuing as businesses were leaving the downtown areas.

No matter how hard those respective leaders have attempted to attract businesses back to the inner city areas, and pump funds into those projects, the results have been dismal.

Perhaps that lesson, too, might be beneficial to Hagerstown’s current thinking.

Traveling always seems to make the world a more interesting place.


Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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