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Irreverent or disrespectful; what’s the difference?

Remember, today is the Old Timers Day Parade. It starts at 10 a.m. traveling west on Yosemite Avenue from Flume to G streets. Afterwards there is a family-friendly festival in Courthouse Memorial Park. Hope to see you all there.


Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to the difference between being irreverent and being disrespectful. It turns out, according to Google, there is little to no difference between the two. As the kids say, my bad.

Regardless of whose bums occupy the chairs, it is my habit to speak of our local governing bodies as the bored of stupids, silly council and my personal favorite the Madera irritation district.

I just can’t understand why people don’t find me as funny as I find myself. I love the looks I sometimes get when I set off a zinger of a comment. I like to be outrageous but strive to never be mean-spirited.

I have a sense of deep affection for some former and current members of all three of the austere bodies. That being said, my fondness in no way immunizes the bored members from my normal manner of address.

Those who run for public office and serve the community embark on a journey that takes them places I would never want to travel. While I enjoy taking pot shots at them I do appreciate the good they try to do.

I first crossed swords with the Supes and Council members when the state of California decided to build a prison in Madera County in the late 1980s. One of the sites considered was kitty-corner across the street from my in-laws’ five acres in Dixieland, where we lived.

A few of my neighbors and I launched a NIMBY campaign and the facilities were ultimately built in Fairmead instead. I telephoned all 10 members of the two boards to voice my complaints and typically had to leave a message. And then I spent about six months answering my home phone with the greeting “No prison for Madera County, how can I help you?” That was great fun especially the day the late Supervisor Al Ginsberg returned my call. When he asked me how big our organization was I told him it was larger than you’d think. There is serious resistance to this project, said I.

I also wrote a number of complaint letters to the editor of The Madera Tribune and to the buzz newspaper in Fresno.

Who knew one day I would be allowed to write this weekly (weakly) column. On Sept. 30, I will celebrate 10 years of the most fun I could ever imagine. Thank you for reading us.

During the public hearings, the state representatives promised they would only house low-level, female offenders in a single prison. They assured us the local schools and social services would not be adversely impacted by the prison because the men and children of female inmates typically don’t relocate to the nearby towns in order to maintain a familial relationship.

I miss the 1980s when people spoke their mind without giving much thought to being politically correct.

There are now two prisons in Chowchilla. That city’s silly council annexed the properties into the city. One of the facilities houses men and one of them is the only facility in the state used for female death-row inmates.

Central California Women’s Facility opened in 1990. We sold the folks’ farm and moved to town in 1992.

I still wonder if the property would have sold for more or less money had there been a prison across the road.

Several people in town tried to talk some sense into me during that period, as they were afraid the state would decide there was too much local opposition to the project and they might shelve the idea or build the prison in a county with less opposition.

I remember an especially acrimonious discussion with Realtor Dennis Chezick in front of the post office. Trying to make me see reason. Chezick talked about what a great financial boon to the county all the jobs and tax revenue, locally purchased goods and services, etc., would be for Madera. He also said they would never be able to house men in the facility because to do that they would have to change the law. I couldn’t make him understand that the state makes the laws and so changing them would be easy.

My podiatrist recently called me a hippie because of my fondness for Birkenstock sandals and Uggs boots. I am delighted that the clothes from the 1970s such as Bohemian styles are making a comeback. I have always loved peasant blouses and maxi-skirts.

I was too young to join the movement in San Francisco to rage against the military industrial complex but I loved reading Leon Emo’s accounts of his time there. Gosh, I miss him.

Have a great weekend.

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