Bouquets and Brickbats

State needs to do its duty mapping faults

letters@thetribunenews.comOctober 25, 2013 

We Californians are a proud bunch. We nonchalantly downplay the dangers of living in earthquake country when the relatives from Wyoming come to visit, but deep down, we know the Big One is a force of nature to be respected, feared and prepared for as much as possible. In San Luis Obispo County alone, a mountain of money has been invested in retrofitting buildings, and who among us doesn’t have a disaster preparedness kit either at the ready or on our shopping list?

In other words, we’re doing our part. So why is the state of California shirking its duty when it comes to mapping active earthquake faults?

As reported Sunday by the Los Angeles Times, the mapping of faults — a project undertaken following the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake — has slowed to a near standstill on account of budget cuts. According to the Los Angeles Times, the state geologist’s budget has shrunk from $9.1 million in 2001 to $2.9 million for the current year.

We recognize that the state’s had a hard time keeping the lights on in classrooms and the gates open at state parks, but there’s no excuse for failing to adequately fund a project that could potentially save lives, even for the most penny-wise/pound-foolish of bureaucrats.

In the wake of the L.A. Times report, lawmakers have called for allocating more funds to the mapping project. That’s a relief, but it doesn’t get the state off the hook. We detect rumblings of a brickbat registering 9.9 on the scale of righteous indignation, and it’s predicted to hit the state Capitol any minute.

Poly wise to update alcohol policy

Somebody, order a bouquet of hops for Cal Poly. And while you’re at it, put it on our tab. The university is updating its policies on the availability of alcohol on campus. As part of that process, it will determine, once and for all, whether the campus is truly “dry” or just sort of semi-dry.

The policy discussion also could open the door to allowing an on-campus pub, which may not be a bad idea if it means fewer alcohol-related problems in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Whatever happens, it makes sense to clear up confusion over when and where alcohol is allowed on campus. As new Cal Poly official Stan Nosek so aptly put it, “One of the things I was hearing is that it is a dry campus, but the first week I was here, it was undried several times.”

Our advice: Let the public know

We’ll leave it to the lawyers to decide whether or not the city of Grover Beach violated the Brown Act when it failed to publicize meetings of a committee working on a proposed city charter.

But here’s our non-legalistic, nontechnical take: When in doubt, err on the side of caution and let the public know what’s going on. In this case, it will be up to the voters to decide whether to adopt a city charter anyway, so it would be wise to include them in the process from the start. That would be the surest way to avoid accusations of undue secrecy — and to keep the brickbats at bay.

That’s a heckuva pumpkin!

In the spirit of Halloween, we’ll skip the tricks and treat Randy and Rhonda Pharr of Templeton to a squash blossom bouquet for their ginormous, prizewinning pumpkin. It tipped the scales at 890 pounds, setting a record for San Luis Obispo County and winning first prize in the Great Pumpkin Contest sponsored by Farm Supply Co.

By the way, if you’d like a shot at the title next year, Farm Supply will be giving away plants grown from the seeds of contest entrants. If you’ve got a green thumb, put it on your calendar.

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