It’s The Recall, Stupid

As California, the United States and even Austria focus on the California gubernatorial recall election slated for October 7th, it’s time to put this back in perspective: by any other name, it’s still a recall.

This great state’s early solons put a recall provision into law around the turn of the last century; 1911, I believe. If a holder of high office be guilty of a high crime, malfeasance or moral turpitude, Californians have a means of rectifying that.
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Parade in Castro Valley

Tales of The Hill …

We first noticed it when the California Highway Patrol set up the traffic diversion cones on Lake Chabot Road. In unincorporated areas, the CHP shares local law enforcement and traffic duties with the County Sheriffs. Now, traffic could not turn up Castro Valley Boulevard. We can see it all, from the balcony on our perch on The Hill.

And we overheard our neighbor in the downstairs apartment telling her friends, “They’re blocking it off. Something’s going on! They’re having a f***ing fair!”

Soon we heard the beat of what we took to be the high school band: the rattle of drums, and, once in a while, the toot of a trombone or french horn. Some nondescript floats inched down the boulevard, shining 18-wheeler Kenworth flatbeds decorated with crepe paper and banners and girls in cheerleader uniforms waving pompoms.

I have never seen an 18-wheeler used in a civic parade before, but those compound low gears sure make a heap o’ sense for a parade’s stately pace. Mighty diesel air horns and towering heights of chrome must surely impress the tots more than those phony motorized floats seen in the Macys Parade on the TV.

There was a big modern red fire engine, a parade of 1950’s Nash Ramblers and Cosmopolitans, a bevy of your obligatory Model A Fords, and a big ol’ time coupe roadster that, Hey Mom, looked like an oversized PT Cruiser! And there were people on horseback, and a horse-drawn carriage.

Some men marched in white uniforms, but they didn’t march like military personnel. They just ambled down the Boulevard. There were several shiny new pickup trucks, tailgates down, toting collections of teens and tots. A couple of parents walked behind every pickup truck. Safety first, you know. Otherwise, everybody who didn’t have to march, rode down all four blocks of the boulevard if they could possibly do so.

Castro Valley is a biker town, but we didn’t hear one Harley. Thousands of us hear enough of them when the bars close at 2AM. I guess they weren’t invited.

We got a few telephoto pictures, without ever leaving the comfort of our balcony, and our C.Bear got a peek at the parade through the 7×50 binoculars, and, let me tell you, HE was impressed.

We looked through last Sunday’s S.F. Chronicle “Datebook” for the all-critical community announcement. But we found none.

And we saw not one protest sign, nor so much as one person trashing shopkeepers’ windows. As far as we could tell, no one was trying to poison the town pump, or blow up our Boulevard. The valley walls around us are a lush and vibrant green, and a few clouds float across an incredibly blue sky. The flowers are beginning to bloom.

It is a great day to go for a stroll. I guess John Ashcroft and Tom what’s-his-face just aren’t needed here today.

From what we saw from our balcony vista, people here had a good time. If Governor Gray Davis and a couple of Senators and TV crews couldn’t make an appearance today, so much the better. But, you know what? I bet SF’s Mayor Willie Brown would have been here — if somebody had only taken the time to tell him.

Alex Forbes
© May 10, 2003

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San Mateo-Hayward Bay Bridge

On Saturday, workers quietly completed the final steps of a massive bridge-widening project, striped the new lanes, moved the barriers, and they left. Outside of local Bay Area TV stations and hundreds of thousands of stressed commuters, few will notice, and fewer will appreciate.

We didn’t notice anyone thanking the hundreds of men and women who did the actual work, finishing the 3-year lane widening project a month ahead of schedule. We appreciate a job well done, and we’d like to offer our thanks and congratulations.
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Got Milk?

Gustine, Merced County, California: Cal/OSHA has launched a sweeping, unprecedented investigation of California’s dairy industry after a spate of immigrant worker deaths. The San Francisco Chronicle carried an LA Times column by Lee Romney, Deaths of 3 immigrant workers dog state’s dairy industry, revealing worker deaths by passing out and drowning in enclosed pools of putrefacted liquid manure waste.

The circumstances of death are almost too horrible to describe. There was no explanation of what possible incentive workers might have to enter the stinking pump pits. Farmers were warned against “complacency”.

The article concludes with an inappropriately cutesy official pronouncement by Bill Krycia, Cal/OSHA’s agricultural enforcement coordinator. It is almost certain to warrant closer public scrutiny:

“California is now the No. 1 dairy state. We’re all very proud of them. They have happy cows,” Krycia said, referring to a dairy marketing campaign. “Now we want safe and healthy workers.”

Once we have happy cows, then we can have healthy workers?

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California’s Energy Crisis

California’s Energy Crisis: Letter – Still in Denial: I met some co-workers from out of state today, and we talked about how the news of California’s energy crisis is in the news, but not in the same way that it’s in the news in California!

In this state, perhaps, we’re still far too preoccupied with finger-pointing to start reaching any clear consensus on how to produce more of our own energy. There are interesting parallels to the oil shortages of the 1970’s; in that decade we became abjectly dependent on “foreign” oil producers because most of us really believed we had a virtually unlimited supply of cheap oil. We paid for this fantasy accordingly. Today, starting with (but not limited to) California, we are witnessing a repeat of the same “day late, dollar short” mentality, but, this time, the “foreigners” are us!

This letter to a friend is the first attempt we’ve made to address this situation at It may not be the last. You may not think private enterprise, certainly not the kind we are witnessing today, can possibly participate in a solution to the energy problem. Or, you may think the “Greens”, the religiously environmental groups, are to blame. And then, of course, it’s always fashionable to blame “the government”, but it’s another thing entirely to show just how the mechanisms operate. This is our modest and incomplete start. In case you get hot under the collar, keep an energy-efficient fire extinguisher handy. Enjoy! March 20, 2001

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