Crews from CHP, Cal Fire, the Paso Robles Fire Department and the SLO County Technical Rescue Team earn a rainbow of bouquets for rescuing stranded motorists from flooded North County creeks Monday.
There were two separate incidents, both involving drivers who tried to cross rain-swollen creeks in their SUVs but wound up in trouble. In one case, two men — 42 and 74 — climbed on top of their vehicle but were swept to shore. Fortunately, neither man was injured.
There is more rain in the forecast, so be careful out there. Remember: Vehicles can be swept away by less than 2 feet of moving water, and it takes less than 6 inches of swiftly moving water to pull a person down.
Large lump-sum payouts ridiculous
It’s all well and good for Gov. Brown to take away 48,000 state-issued cellphones from California employees and to ban the purchase of key chains, water bottles and other promotional tchotchkes distributed by state agencies. But come on, Jerry, how about doing something about the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to employees who rack up months and months of unused vacation?
Last year alone, the state spent $293 million on lump-sum payments to workers who either retired or quit with enormous amounts of unused time off on the books. Some payments were staggering; the former chief medical director of CMC, for example, was paid $412,666, according to a San Francisco Chronicle story in Tuesday’s Tribune.
To be fair, the large payouts were due in part to furloughs; some employees, especially in public safety agencies, weren’t able to use all of their vacation hours on account of work emergencies and staff shortages.
However, the Chronicle reported that many state agencies don’t enforce a 640-hour “cap” on the number of vacation hours employees are allowed to accumulate. With that in mind, we won’t bother capping the lump sum of brickbats we’ll hurl at the state for such fiscally irresponsible behavior.
Another study bound for Oceano
We halfheartedly toss a limp bouquet to SLO County for pursuing a $150,000 Caltrans grant that would fund a “revitalization study” for Oceano.
Much as we would love to see more sidewalks, bike lanes, “streetscape enhancements” and other transportation-related improvements in Oceano, we’re not thrilled that more taxpayer dollars would be spent on another study to make that happen.
The Oceano Specific Plan, after all, isn’t even a decade old. That plan — which included transportation-related issues — cost $125,000; $100,000 was funded with fees paid by offshore oil developers and $25,000 came from the county general fund.
Granted, the specific plan isn’t super specific on some subjects. For instance, it speaks only in general terms about the need for sidewalks and bike paths. Apparently, a Caltrans-funded study would spell out those needs in greater detail, and the county could then go ahead and apply for more money to actually implement the plan.
With every level of government broke, we’re not sure where that money would come from — but if the day ever arrives when the county stops studying the needs in Oceano and gets around to actual projects, we’ll gladly present it with a proper bouquet.