Editorials

Bouquets and Brickbats: Pooch ‘rescuers’ in the doghouse

They may call it puppy love, but we call it pure insanity on the part of the pair who broke into the county animal shelter Sunday night to retrieve a pit bull.

Bad enough to let a dog wander the streets, where it was picked up by a conscientious passer-by. But then putting the pooch at risk with a foolhardy and dangerous — not to mention illegal — rescue was downright bird-brained.

Mind you, this was no ordinary break-in, either. This was a nighttime, “Mission Impossible”-style operation that involved cutting through a fence, harnessing the pit bull and hoisting him onto the roof.

Couldn’t the pair have waited until the next day to retrieve the pooch — and saved themselves a trip to the county jail?

We’re tempted to sic the SPCA on these dubious dog lovers, but we’ll settle for hounding them with a pound of flea-bitten brickbats instead.

Determination trumps injury

Imagine shooting yourself accidentally in the leg.

An awful experience for anyone, it was more so for Kelly Barmann, a competitive athlete. The incident occurred several years ago while she was hunting in New Mexico.

She underwent surgery to insert a rod, pins and screws in her shattered left femur. She also endured a series of painful injections into her bone as part of the recovery.

The injury and resulting rehabilitation dashed Barmann’s dreams of playing basketball, her first love, and she gave up any thought of competitive running.

Still, when she entered Cuesta College in August, she asked cross country coach Brian Locher if she could work out with the team as a way to meet fellow students and stay in shape. Instead, he invited her to try out for the team.

“Long story short, he kind of talked me into it,” she recalls.

Barmann has ended up being Cuesta’s top woman runner this fall, and on Tuesday the freshman won the Western State Conference individual title on her home course. She now advances to a regional meet and hopes to make it all the way to the state meet.

For Barmann’s grit and determination in overcoming the injury, we send an energy-packed bouquet and wish her much more success.

A demerit to Diablo for switch error

Granted, no one was hurt and the error was caught. But the fact that two switches on a safety system at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant were improperly set 18 months ago — and just discovered last week — worries us. If an extreme emergency like a terrorist attack or massive earthquake had occurred, causing a severe loss of cooling water, operators’ ability to respond could have been impaired. PG&E has backup procedures and options for problems like these, but even so the operators would have had to manually open the valves, and this could have exposed them to radiation.

The improperly set switches were discovered during maintenance and testing conducted as part of a refueling shutdown of one of the plant’s reactors, PG&E says. The plant believes they were wrongly set during the last outage 18 months ago.

We trust that plant operators and federal safety inspectors who are now investigating the matter will put new standards in place, if necessary, to prevent this problem from occurring again.

We’ll reserve a bouquet for them if and when they do; in the meantime, we’re lobbing a brickbat to the plant for its negligence.

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