Editorials

Bouquets and Brickbats: State Parks and Post-it notes equal greedheads

Boulder-sized brickbats plastered with Post-It notes are en route to Sacramento, where they’ll be delivered to each and every one of the 56 officials at State Parks headquarters who profited from illegal vacation buyouts.

As reported by The Sacramento Bee, employees cashed out their unused vacation, even though such buyouts hadn’t been authorized since 2007. To avoid being caught, employees used Post-it notes to make their requests. In all, the scheme cost the state $271,000, just as it was preparing to shut down 70 parks because it couldn’t afford to operate them.

Here’s some small comfort: According to the Bee, the employee who masterminded the buyout was demoted and later resigned, and another employee was fired. No criminal charges will be filed, though, since the workers had actually earned the leave.

OK, but couldn’t they at least be assigned to clean portable potties for the duration of their careers?

Ordinance is a breath of fresh air

County Supervisors Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson and Jim Patterson earn breathtaking — or should that be breathgiving? — bouquets for voting to ban smoking in outdoor venues under county control, including neighborhood parks in the unincorporated areas and in patios, walkways and parking lots at county buildings.

The other two supervisors — Frank Mecham and Paul Teixiera — rate a couple of packs of unfiltered brickbats for putting smokers’ “right” to pollute the air ahead of the general welfare.

In voting against the no-smoking ordinance, Teixeira said it should be up to parents to protect their children from tobacco products, and both men were concerned that a ban on smoking would be an intrusion on personal rights. Hogwash. Smokers aren’t just harming themselves, but also those around them who are breathing in second-hand smoke.

Besides, this ordinance is hardly aheavy-handed assault on smokers. There are several exceptions to the ban — smoking will be allowed at county golf courses, for example — and enforcement will be low-key. The county won’t be sending out employees to smoke out people who are illegally lighting up. Rather, it will be up to people who are offended by smoke to “politely address nearby smokers directly,” according to a county staff report.

So you’re right, Supervisor Teixeira. It will still be up to parents to protect their children from hazardous smoke — and this rather mild ban will give them a tool to do exactly that.

Poly’s quality again recognized

We toss a bouquet of 10 SLO-grown roses to Cal Poly — one for each year of accreditation earned by the university. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges was especially impressed by Poly’s six-year graduation rate of 76 percent — up from 65 percent in the mid ’90s — and by students’ willingness to increase fees to help pay for classes.

There is room for improvement: Among other recommendations, the accreditation report urged the university to increase diversity. We second that. For too long, university administrators have bemoaned the lack of diversity on campus, without making significant progress.

The current administration is trying several approaches to increase diversity, such as “partnering” with high schools with large populations of underrepresented students, in an effort to encourage those students to enroll. That’s encouraging news; we look forward to marked gains by the time the next accreditation rolls around.

Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.

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