Over the Hill

Sometimes, all it takes is a little time

We’re still waiting.

The Voyager 1 space-probe has flown for 35 years but still hasn’t reached the outer edge of the solar system.

Also, one of John Borst’s lawsuits against Paso Robles’ water rate increases still hasn’t been decided. He filed it in 2009.

Also, California has 729 condemned prisoners on death row. Nobody’s been executed since 2006.

But be patient. Long-awaited things do sometimes happen, at least partially. Consider Thalidomide. It was a drug prescribed to pregnant women to relieve morning sickness.

In the 1950s and early ’60s, it caused major birth defects, such as no arms, in about 10,000 babies. The chief executive of the German manufacturer of Thalidomide finally apologized last Friday.

He spoke at the unveiling of a statue of an armless child. The company took the drug off the market in 1961. It was sold in 46 countries, but not the United States. The Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t approve it for pregnant women.

The company has resisted claims from Thalidomide victims for compensation. It does, however, contribute to a trust fund for the drug’s victims in Germany. Also, some victims in other countries have successfully sued the drug’s distributors.

The apology was 50 years late but it came, so, keep on waiting for Voyager 1 to reach deep space. It’s going 38,000 mph, more than 11 billion miles from the sun. One of these years, it will exit the solar system for good.

And John Borst’s lawsuit may be decided in a month. He led the opposition to Paso Robles’ recent water rate increases. He’s a plaintiff in two lawsuits.

One asserted that the latest increases needed voter approval. Two local judges ruled against him on that. He’s asked a state court of appeal to overturn that decision.

His other lawsuit seeks to force the city to refund earlier water and sewer rate increases, estimated at $8 million. Brooke Mayo and Teresa St. Clair of Paso Robles joined that suit. The judge in that case is waiting to hear the court of appeal’s decision on Borst’s other suit.

And the stalemate on death row may be ended this November by Proposition 34. Prop. 34 would replace the death penalty with life without parole.

California reinstated the death penalty in 1978. Since then, we’ve executed only 13 prisoners. Our last execution was in 2006. But since 1977, about 60 condemned prisoners have died naturally. Proponents of Prop. 34 argue that enforcing the death penalty since 1978 has cost California $4 billion. That argument may impress voters.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than four decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.