Who knew? Here we thought our beaches, our vineyards, our ranking as the happiest place on Earth were among our biggest assets. Then a giant, ugly-beautiful rodent wanders in and hogs the limelight.
All it took were a few grainy cell-phone photos posted online, and the capybara sighted at the Paso Robles sewage treatment plant last month became an overnight celeb, inspiring enough blogs, news articles and TV spots to rival a Kardashian.
He (she?) made the Huff Post, the L.A. Times, The Christian Science Monitor — which questioned whether a swim in Paso’s sewer might be affecting the capybara’s health — The Telegraph out of the U.K. and of course, the front page of Thursday’s Tribune, to name but a few.
The animal was variously referred to as “an evil beast who looks like a giant guinea pig,” “the bigfoot of rodents,” “a rogue rodent” and “an international celebrity.” One blog — Capybara Madness — christened the animal Parc, and provided this description of her adventures: “She goes swimming in a river, eats hay with horses (and the farmer SHOT! at her) and lounges in the tepid waters of the sewage treatment plant.”
We’d send Parc a welcome-to-Hollywood bouquet and pair of shades for evading the paparazzi if we could only nail down a permanent address.
We suspect, though, that poor Parc just wants to be left alone, and as long as she’s not hurting anyone, why shouldn’t she be allowed to roam in peace?
Sour grapes on redistricting result
California’s Republican Party was among the most ardent backers of a plan to take the job of redistricting away from the Legislature and place it in the hands of an independent commission.
Voters approved the idea, and a bipartisan commission was appointed to redraw lines for state Assembly and Senate districts and the state’s U.S. congressional districts. The commission was made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four unaffiliated members.
Now the results are in, and the Republican leadership is unhappy with the outcome of the very process it championed. It’s threatening to place a measure on the 2012 ballot to overturn state Senate districts, because it says the new lines unfairly favor Democrats even though California Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 2 million, and even though the commission vote on the Senate districts was nearly unanimous, with only one Republican commissioner voting no.
We recognize that remapping is a contentious process and no one will ever be happy. But Republicans leaders are acting like kids who make up the rules of a game and then ran home crying when they lose. But, hey, those are just kids. These are adults — and there’s no excuse for dragging California through more muck at this low point in its history.
We’re serving up brickbats soaked in sour grapes to the leaders of this ridiculous fight.
Students riding out tough times
This isn’t an easy time for schools — districts are still waiting to learn whether they’ll have to cut more bucks from their budgets — yet as recent test scores show, county students continue to shine in many areas. That’s a credit to students, their families, their teachers and the support staffs at our local schools.
As thousands of students head back to campus — some started this week, others will join them next week — we offer SLO County schools a class-act bouquet for hanging in there in this tough economy. Let’s hope the worst is over.