Bouquets and Brickbats: New Year bouquets

Time to toss the pine wreaths and droopy poinsettias and make way for sparkly New Year’s Day bouquets. Rush deliveries go out to:

(1) SLO County folks who will not be ringing in the new year by drinking and driving. If you do plan to open a bottle of champagne or two, do yourself — and everyone else on the road — afavor. Enlist a designated driver, take a cab, splurge on a limo, arrange to spend the night at the party venue or — what could be easier? — celebrate at home.

(2) Law enforcement officers — including police, CHP and sheriff’s deputies — who will be patrolling our local highways and byways this New Year’s holiday to keep us safe.

(3) The Cal Poly (SLO and Pomona) crews putting together this year’s Rose Parade entry. We may be biased, but from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like awinner.

(4) The polar bear “dippers” who will engage in the crazy ritual of running into the cold, cold Cayucos surf on New Year’s morning. If you’ve never been, check it out even if it’s just to watch the antics from the safety (and relative warmth) of the shore.

(5) Resolution makers. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, run a marathon or finally get around to cleaning out the garage, we wish you the best of luck.

(6) Each and every baby born on New Year’s Day and to their soon-to-be-sleep-deprived moms and dads.

Knocking the naysayers

The final bill has yet to be tallied, but extreme weather disasters of 2011 — floods, wildfires, tornadoes, etc. — caused at least $50 billion in damages nationally, according to a New York Times news analysis published in Sunday’s Tribune.

If that seems incredibly high, it is. There are typically three or four weather-related disasters in the United States that cost more than $1 billion each. There were at least 12 this year.

Scientists believe they can do a much better job of analyzing and predicting extreme weather events, but they face stiff opposition in this tough political climate.

As the NYT piece explained, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this year sought a reorganization to give businesses and local governments better climate forecasts. But House Republicans, many of whom vehemently dismiss the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming, blocked it and called it an Obama plan to start a “propaganda” arm on climate — even though the plan originated with the Bush administration, would make the organization more efficient and would have cost no additional money.

Unless action is taken, the problem is only going to get worse. Any thinking person can see the evidence and reality of scientific research on global warming, yet there are still those who willfully remain blind. We therefore launch a head-in-the-sand brickbat at the naysayers and deniers of science who impede research and warning systems that can only help the public in this unprecedented era of extreme droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, rainstorms and snowstorms.

A tail-wagging welcome

We toss woof-and-ready bouquets of welcome to the newest members of the county Sheriff’s Office: Belgian shepherd Jacco and German shepherds Nico and Gonzo.

The police canines join Jack, a drug-sniffing Labrador who had been the sole police dog on the force.

Like him, the three rookies have the ability to root out illegal narcotics. They also can track down suspects and help locate missing people. That will be a huge help in covering the more rural, remote stretches of the county.

The Sheriff’s Office invested $60,000 in the dogs — that also covered equipment and training — but that didn’t come from the county’s beleaguered general fund; the program was funded from assets forfeited in criminal cases.

In this era of declining government resources, this was a creative and cost-effective way to put more “deputies” on the streets, and no one should pick a bone with that.