Isn’t it funny how elected officials are quick to regulate others but slow to regulate themselves?
Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mark Stone wants to extend a ban on plastic bags by clamping down on paper bags at local grocery stores. Under his plan retailers would be forced to offer discounts to shoppers who bring in their own reusable shopping bags. Or, perhaps, they’d charge shoppers more to use what he calls “single-use bags.”
Perhaps his idea is a good one, although I’d love to hear from retailers to find out whether the plan would lead to higher prices. But a bigger issue is something more basic: if you want to make change, start with yourself.
Occasionally a friend will tell me he (or she) admires my confidence, and ask if he can “run some small problem by me.” "Of course," I say. I like to listen because I believe that often we can arrive at our own answers just by sharing our thoughts with another. Sometimes I am tempted to confess that I am not as confident as I seem, but I like that I appear confident and so I never do. I like that people come to me; it is my way of making friends. I didn’t have friends growing up and have been shy and lonely much of my life.
The two most prominent green car startups are Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors, but a recent BusinessWeek article quotes longtime analyst Maryann Keller as saying, “We’re pouring $1 billion into two companies without a future. The economics of the industry favors large companies.” Is Obama wasting our hard-earned money? I don’t think so.
Of $8.5 billion in Department of Energy loans to automakers so far to build new green-themed plants, $465 million went to Tesla for work on its Model S sedan and, more recently, $528 million to Fisker Automotive for final design work on its $89,000 Karma luxury plug-in hybrid and for its more affordable Project Nina car. The total Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan fund is $25 billion, so much of the money remains to be spent.
As I have been reliving downtown’s devastation of ’89, I have heard hundreds of stories of near misses and irony, stories of awe and adrenaline. Perhaps my favorite recount is of the 4-year- old girl watching Sesame Street, looking up for just a moment to respond to the frightened beckoning of her mother through the falling books and shaking furniture “But mom, I didn’t do it!” And while everyone has their own memory to share, the theme that continues to be retold is the one we all remember of the selfless service that the whole town seemed to gravitate toward. As people assessed the damages to buildings, the displaced businesses, with the very future of downtown in question, a remarkable community united around the idea of helping. Soon the question everyone was asking themselves, and each other, was, “What can I do?”
It also differs from the neighborhood tavern in that discussion is not the main activity. It’s a refuge from all that talking that we have to do in other gathering spots.
Especially politics. Nothing is worse than listening to a political harangue while gasping for air on the Stairmaster. Just put in your ear buds, stare straight ahead and you’re blessedly in your own world.
Have you heard? President Obama wants to hand over your paycheck to illegal immigrants, indoctrinate your kids, and pull the plug on Granny. Most heinous of all (and you might want to cover the eyes of impressionable children for this one): he wants to guarantee you lifetime health care you can afford.
Oh, the humanity!
Can anything be more loony than the current “debate” over health care reform? Health should not be held hostage to politics. Basic health care should be a right of every American, not a bargaining chip in political maneuvering. So, along comes Obama with a plan (not even a plan, just the radical idea that a plan needs to be made), and all he gets is grief from the very citizens—working class, non-rich—he’s trying to help.
They say that journalists should not reveal their sources. But as is so often true, Santa Cruz does things differently. Sources and journalists here can be metaphorically in bed together for years at a time, and the relations between the newsmakers and news reporters sometimes run deep. Once in a while, people even become friends.
Such is my relationship with Mardi Wormhoudt, former Santa Cruz mayor, former dominating presence on the county Board of Supervisors and one of my most indispensible friends.
Mardi now is battling melanoma, and those close to her say the long-term prognosis is not good. She remains an active presence in Santa Cruz, but her medical situation gives us pause to consider what she has meant to the community.
So much was made about Barack Obama being the first African-American president, that more subtle—and more important—issues were ignored.
Obama, at 48, is decidedly not a Baby Boomer. He wasn’t part of the raging segregation debate of the ’50s, nor was he an adult during the tumult of the ’60s—black power, white rage, all the rest.
Obama’s election was instead a triumph of a new generation, one that is more comfortable about diversity than the generation that came before. Nowhere is that more obvious than the recent public discussion of whether the rude outburst by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican. A number of columnists, and no less an observer than former President Jimmy Carter, almost reflexively maneuvered themselves to an allegation of racism.