Sierra Sun top 10 stories of 2009: No. 5 – Budget cuts hit home | SierraSun.com

Sierra Sun top 10 stories of 2009: No. 5 – Budget cuts hit home

the staff of the Sierra Sun

Sun File PhotoThe California flag flew upside down for a day in August at the Nevada County Courthouse in Truckee, at a time when state morale dipped to dangerous low levels as state budget sessions in Sacramento repeatedly edged into the late nights. According to the Nevada County Sheriff's Office, the flip was just a mistake.

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. – We would prefer to look at 2009 with one eye closed. For a brief time, the region saw the economy dip down to levels not seen since the late 80s, and optimism dip even further. During that volatility, the stress on us as a region was evident. We fought and filed lawsuits, we packed our bags and left, and much of our community was pointing fingers about the future of the school district.

Frankly, it wasn’t much fun, which is why we’d prefer just to move on and forget most of it. Yet, that would be too easy. Between the bad news headlines and tragedies did lay a bit of silver lining. Those in the region who survived 2009 – however you define that – will walk into 2010 with a resolve and a confidence unparalleled in most of our lifetimes.

The evidence is clear. Development on the horizon is beginning to employ more workers. Early snowfall propelled the region to the top of the resort world for the 2009 Christmas holiday week, and the school district is beginning to refocus itself away from the politics and back to the classroom. But we don’t have to remind our readers how far we still have to go, and the volume of challenges we have to overcome to protect our region and our quality of life.

So, to 2009 and all its bittersweet memories, we bid you adieu and thank you for the whipping. And when you finally go, please don’t let the door hit you on the way out, and definitely don’t look back.

Watching the state of California adjust to the economic freefall in 2009 was akin to watching circus performers do their taxes. It just should never be as exciting and nerve-wracking as our legislators made it. Their repeated failure to communicate the realities and reach tangible solutions funneled down to local services and government. At one point State Parks – responsible for millions in revenue locally – were on the chopping block. The school district cut millions and laid off teachers. Sierra Senior Services cut back its meal programs to our needy elderly population. And Tahoe City saw its police dispatch center close and move to Auburn, while Kings Beach lost its only walk-in police station that had bilingual staff on site. And we could go on …

It’s not looking like any of this will return in 2010, as the state is still carrying billions in debt into the next year. Yet, we will vote for a new governor next year, and we know all the candidates will be forced to answer the question Gov. Schwarzenegger never could: “How can you repair a system that appears from the outside to be impossibly broken? And how do you do it without first causing more harm?”