Bouquets and Brickbats

Plaudits to Cal Poly baseball team, coach

letters@thetribunenews.comMay 30, 2014 

Cal Poly baseball coach Larry Lee looks on as Mark Mathias runs through a double-play drill during a recent practice.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

We’re pitching a bottom-of-the-ninth, bases-loaded, grand-slam bouquet to the standout Cal Poly baseball team, which ended the regular season with a remarkable 45-10 record — the best in university history.

There’s more excitement to come: This weekend, the Mustangs host a Division I NCAA regional — a first for Poly. Credit is due to the players and their families, the fans and, of course, the incredible coaching staff led by Larry Lee. Their stellar efforts have put Cal Poly baseball on the national map. Congratulations, and go Mustangs.

Salmonella progress too slow

Here’s something to squawk about: Cases of salmonella poisoning linked to California-based Foster Farms chickens continue to be reported. There were 50 new illnesses in the past two months, bringing the total number of cases to 574 since the outbreak started more than a year ago.

Yet the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not ordering any recalls or shutting down any plants, and Foster Farms has been unwilling to issue a voluntary recall, though it insists it’s taking steps to put things right.

“The company continues to make steady progress that has effectively reduced salmonella at the parts level to less than 10 percent — well below the 2011/2012 USDA-measured industry benchmark of 25 percent,” it said in a statement. “With each set of sampling, Foster Farms has demonstrated a significant improvement in salmonella control.”

That’s meant to be reassuring, but we don’t take much comfort in the fact that salmonella “at the parts” has been reduced to less than 10 percent, or that the “industry benchmark” is an alarming 25 percent.

And that “steady progress” that Foster Farms touts? It can’t be all that steady if people continue to get sick. Even a USDA spokeswoman said the outbreak “has persisted for far too long without a solution.”

We agree — and until the problem is solved, we’ll be serving up generous helpings of chicken-fried brickbats to the USDA and Foster Farms.

Damaged memorial repaired in time

We toss a big, red-white-and-blue bouquet to the Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation, for the timely repair of the damaged Faces of Freedom Memorial. The impressive monument in Atascadero was struck by a hit-and-run driver on New Year’s Day; the driver of the errant truck later claimed that he had hit the wrong pedal.

Damaged lighting fixtures and brick pavers were repaired soon after the incident, but the engraved benches — made of black granite imported from India — took longer to replace. They were in place by Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony, though, putting an inspiring end to an unfortunate episode.

Remember to vote, if you haven’t

Finally, early-bird bouquets to all SLO County residents who have already voted by mail. If you prefer to vote at your local polling place on Election Day, remember to work it into your schedule on Tuesday — and your bouquet will be waiting.

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