Showing posts from 2012

Doesn't hold water.

I have a small book called “Gumpisms” which is a collection of sayings by the movie character Forrest Gump. My favorite Gumpism (sanitized by me for your protection) says “Keep your B.S. detector in good working order.” That's good advice, particularly when reading the propaganda being put forth by our private utility companies of late. I've written about PG&E's B.S. in the past, and now it's time to take on Cal-Am, our water company. An insert in our latest water bill attempts to explain away a sudden rash in inexplicably high water bills that some customers are getting. We're talking about bills that suddenly jump from under $50 to a couple thousand dollars with no detectable explanation. Cal-Am is blowing these spikes off as unrepaired leaks, even when licensed plumbers can find no leaks. One likely culprit, according to this flyer, is toilet leaks. Here's what they said: “By far, the most common source of lost water in a home results from a

Lawsuits I expect to see.

Now that Samsung has to pay Apple a bazillion dollars for allegedly copying Apple's rectangular phone with rounded corners, a number of other companies have no doubt realized they can now sue their competitors for anything that bears a resemblance to their own products. I expect we'll soon see other lawsuits such as.... Ford suing GM, Chrysler, and Toyota for mounting their cars on four wheels like Ford does. GM countersueing Ford for stealing their idea of putting a radio in the dashboard. Post suing Kellogg's for stealing the idea of mixing sugar coated raisins with bran flakes. Kleenex suing Scotties for stealing the idea of interlacing tissues to keep them popping up out of the box. The Sunshine Cookie people suing Nabisco for stealing their idea of placing vanilla cream between two round chocolate wafers. Boeing suing Airbus for copying their idea of mounting jet engines on each wing. Aerospatiale suing Boeing for stealing their idea for mounting jet engines

Quote of the week

Nothing in Carmel is ever simple. There's been an ongoing debate over a plan to replace decades old porto-potties at the south end of Carmel beach with real rest rooms. Just when we thought the problem had been solved and designs were approved, neighbors came out with machetes and pitchforks demanding that the plans be scaled back. So a special joint meeting of the city council, planning commission, and the hired architect, was held, according to the August 10th Carmel Pine Cone , and a most bizarre discussion ensued. The architect was told to redesign the rest rooms to be small, simple, and at the same time "world class." He was further instructed that those were not contradictory concepts.  One nearby resident said she and her neighbors had decided that the facilities should only include toilets, but not sinks for hand washing. Their reason being that a knee-high faucet (used for washing feet and dogs) already existed on the nearby beach stairway, making sinks

A pocket guide to local water politics.

Is anyone besides me having trouble keeping track of the diverse cast of agencies trying to solve our water problems? B ased solely on what I read in the newspapers, here are what I understand to be the major players in the ongoing failure to secure a legal and sustainable water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. The State which decreed that we must stop most of the pumping of water from the Carmel River aquifer by 2016 or else. Voters, who in 1993 and 1995 rejected not one, but two water supply projects which would have solved the problem long ago. A Water Board which has been unable to come up with any significant solutions since voters rejected both of the projects it developed in the 1990s. A neighboring Water District that is still licking its wounds after failing to take control of The Peninsula's water supply by pretending to be the agency that would save The Peninsula from the ineffective Water Board. A County Board of Supervisors which ha

The right words

From the very first days of The Monterey Peninsula Toy Box the following quote has served as our introduction: "In six days God created the Heavens and the Earth. On the seventh He made the Monterey Peninsula." I first heard words to that effect one weekend long ago while watching the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament (now called the AT&T tournament) on TV. I didn't know if the announcers were quoting someone or had just made it up on the spot. But the words, or at least the general message, stuck in my mind and it seemed appropriate to put it on the Toy Box home page from day one. The quote remained untouched for the last fourteen years and eleven months. It is now touched. A couple weeks ago a visitor to the Toy Box kindly informed me that the original quote was from Cal Brown, and was first written in a Golf Digest article. It was later re-quoted in the 1974 book Great Golf Courses of the World by William H. Davis. The correct quotation is:

Get the Golden State Theater back on track

During the 1980s there was a movement to construct a major performing arts center on the Monterey Peninsula. It was thought that that a theater of about 1,500 seats would be optimal. The concept had widespread support, and several locations were considered, but each proposal encountered significant hurdles that appeared insurmountable. On July 23, 1989 I had a letter published in the Monterey Herald suggesting that Monterey's State Theater, as it was known in its days as a movie house, be purchased and restored for use as The Peninsula's performing arts center. I pointed out that the facility already existed, was originally designed to handle both live performances and motion pictures, and could seat 1,200. It was not quite as large as what people were hoping for, but arguably close enough. Numerous letters followed from others supporting the idea. Soon, a grassroots movement developed and the State Theater Preservation Group was born. I served on its board for nine ye

Endorsing without endorsing.

Oh what fun it is to follow the ongoing feud between Paul Miller at the Carmel Pine Cone and the other local papers. In this week's edtorial good old Paul informs us, with an air of moral superiority, that the Pine Cone doesn't make election endorsements. He says voters are perfectly capable of making decisions without being told by a newspaper editor how to vote. So Miller doesn't endorse anyone. Not directly, anyway. Instead of making a case for a particular candidate as the Monterey Herald and Monterey County Weekly do, Miller did it sort of obliquely by analyzing the endorsements of those other local papers. This way he has made his preferences known without formally endorsing anyone. At the same time, he gets to engage in his favorite pastime, bashing the local "liberal" media. Two birds, one stone! Oh, Paul, you actually think you're being clever. That's so adorable.

Can PG charge a tax on a sale made in Monterey?

The April 27th Carmel Pine Cone reports that the city of Pacific Grove wants to charge a $1.00 tax on every admission ticket sold at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The city's reasoning is that it needs the revenue (as all cities do these days), and that the aquarium has a presence in the city that affects PG's infrastructure and tidal zone. All well and good so far. However, only 20 percent of the aquarium building is actually in Pacific Grove, the rest is in Monterey. It is worth noting that actual ticket sales occur on the Monterey side of the building, not in Pacific Grove. So my question is can a city impose a tax on a financial transaction that occurs in another city? Just wondering. ----------- Addendum: The PG city council rejected the proposed tax at its May 2 council meeting.   

How to drive away local customers

I find it troubling that nearly all of the candidates for mayor and city council of Carmel are endorsing some form of paid parking. And this time, they're not only talking about putting up meters or ticket kiosks in the business district, but along the beachfront as well. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I can't think of any more effective way for Carmel to drive away local customers than to adopt paid parking! City leaders are attempting to soften the blow by saying that Carmel residents would be exempt; they'd get a special bumper sticker immunizing them from the parking police. They forget, however, that the vast majority of local shoppers live outside the one square mile Carmel city limits. Local shoppers live in a much larger territory stretching from Marina to Big Sur. Those of us who live in this area shop in Carmel because we like to, not because we have to. Is Carmel really prepared to risk losing all of us? Can Carmel's resident-servi

We're not like Europe

"We're not like Europe" is a phrase I've heard a lot in recent years. It seems to have become the standard excuse for not getting things done in this country. Take health care, for example. Pretty much everybody in Europe, rich or poor, is covered by some sort of health care program, and they spend about half as much per capita on health care as we do. It may not be perfect, no humanly organized system is, but it seems to work pretty well overall. Yet for some reason we can't do it here because "We're not like Europe." European health care, we're sternly told, is a heartless socialist program, and we're not socialists, so we can't do it here. Or how about intercity rail transportation? Europeans enjoy a wonderful system - a mix of modern high speed trains between major cities along with scores of conventional trains serving smaller communities. These enable people to travel quickly, comfortably, and reliably from town to town, skip

Contrails over Monterey

On Tuesday afternoon I was listening to former KGO talk show host Bill Wattenburg, who has found a new home on KSCO in Santa Cruz. For those who don't know, Dr. Bill often talks about science stuff, because he's a famous scientist and engineer. He had a couple of kooky callers who insisted that jet contrails are a government conspiracy to destroy our lives. They called them "chemtrails" and these people claim that these normal vapor trails that form in the heat of jet exhaust are actually loaded with chemicals designed to make us sick. The Monterey Peninsula is actually a fertile breeding ground for these theories. In fact, every day large numbers of jet contrails can be seen over Monterey, coming from over the ocean from the Northwest, and headed towards the Southeast. Evidently, some folks can't understand why so many planes would be flying from what appears to be nowhere into California. It must be a sinister government plot! Long before I ever heard of