Mar Kaden, one of our favorite Pacifica eagle eyes, is alarmed that people over-rely on computer spellcheckers and no longer know when to use the right word. Spellchecker software may spell random words correctly, but it can't think logically and contextually to suggest the appropriate word in a sentence. Mar submits these fine examples of spellchecker idiocy: a flyer at Oceana Market advertising childcare services "Sundays threw Thursdays" and Bay Area News Group technology columnist Larry Magid writing about "mobs...screaming racial epitaphs."
Construction begins Monday, May 3 on a rainwater control project in San Bruno, the first step in a grade separation project that will result in dramatic safety improvements at a key series of intersections in that community between Pacifica and San Francisco International Airport. Caltrain will build a new underground box culvert to divert water away from the area during construction and help reduce flooding in the neighborhood east of the railroad tracks. Most of the work will take place during the day, although some will be done at night, after normal train operations have ended. Neighbors will hear noise from heavy construction equipment. At times during the project, First Avenue between Pine Street and San Mateo Avenue will be restricted to local traffic or one-way traffic. The $165 million grade separation project will kick off in the fall with construction of “shoo-fly” temporary tracks that will take trains around construction. The grade separation project will elevate Caltrain tracks above San Bruno, San Mateo, and Angus avenues. A new elevated train station between San Bruno and San Mateo avenues will replace the existing station. The project also includes three pedestrian underpasses, one at Euclid Avenue and Walnut Street, one at the new station, and another near Sylvan Avenue. Some 191 parking spaces and a “kiss and ride” lot will serve the station at the former San Bruno Lumber site. The project will improve safety and reduce traffic congestion in the area and enhance the entrance to the city. As part of the project, Angus Avenue, which currently makes a sharp turn at the tracks, will be straightened. Lighting under the bridges and pedestrian underpasses, variable finishes on the surface of the concrete, and drought-resistant plants are included in the project. Improvements to Posy Park on the east side of the tracks at San Mateo Avenue include a water feature, decorative street furniture, and colored, textured paving. For more information about the project, click http://www.caltrain.com/project_san_bruno_grade_separation.html or call Caltrain Office of Public Affairs at 650-508-7726 or email email@example.com.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently exonerated the perpetrators of deplorable and despicable animal cruelty videos, finding for free speech as guaranteed in the 1st Amendment, while not granting "person-status" rights to animals to protect them. The prosecution's animal-protection motives were admirable, but its tactics were not, possibly endangering our freedoms as people. Here's why:
The U.S. Constitution and particularly the 14th Amendment clearly state what a "person" is. Recently, the Supreme Court granted legal "person status" to corporations, clearly not what the framers intended. Does a corporation vote? No; only its human officers can. Can we arrest a corporation? No; again, only its human officers. Can we legally draft a corporation, put it in a uniform, and send it off to die for its country? Hardly.
Just as rich individuals using various loopholes can donate virtually unlimited amounts to political action committees, corporations of all sizes can now legally spend billions instead of millions on their favorite candidates and issues, from U.S. president to city dog catcher. That's especially bad for California, with its cash-and-carry proposition and political system, further worsening this state's already sick decision-making process.
Alas, constitutionally, the same logic opposing the court's granting rights to corporations applies to animals. While completely failing us with their "corporate rights" vote, the Supremes did get their animal decision right according to the U.S. Constitution, which is unfortunate for Fido, Puss 'n Boots, and Flicka, but unavoidable using that argument.
We must remain absolutely bound by that document or we will fall into political and social disarray, Weimar Republic-style. Woe unto those who use Constitutional amendments to address specific issues. We've seen enough of that from right-wing reactionaries over the decades, from the disastrous 18th Amendment (the Volstead Act) banning all alcohol to recent attempts to pass amendments banning flag burning and all abortion.
State constitutions are especially messy. Most state documents are huge, their bloated verbiage poorly attempting to address in the minutest detail every aspect of life in that state. The U.S. Constitution fits in your back pocket. It's small for a reason and it ought to stay that way.
Legislatures, not courts and constitutions, need to continue to address animal cruelty, a matter of collective societal and personal conscience, propriety, and common sense. We should take successive waves of legislation through the court system, but always, in the end, the Constitution as it's now written must serve as the final arbiter. And it just did.
We have better ways of protecting animals than granting them "equal justice" as "persons" in a misinterpretation of the Constitution. Worse: That would open a can of legal worms adding to the damage this Bush Jr. Supreme Court has just done to the American political process. Massive corporate political donations represent a far greater risk to society than video depictions of cruelty to animals. If we also make Fido a "person" with "rights," how will we ever reverse the newfound "person" status of Exxon, British Petroleum, and other huge corporations, even in a future Supreme Court with a more rational majority? The Constitution makes very clear that a "person" must be a member of our species, Homo sapiens, in part, by what the document doesn't mention, and with good reason: animals and corporations!
I'm a dog and cat lover, but -- sorry, Fido and Puss 'n Boots -- despite our finest instincts, there really are times when human beings come first to protect themselves and when the U.S. Constitution also comes first to do that job.
Pacifica City Council member Mary Ann Nihart recently appeared on the DR. PHIL show (archived April 15 and 23, "Advocating for Your Children"). Mary Ann says, "Every day in this country, children are restrained in public and private schools."
Granada Sanitary District has closed a deal to buy 6.2 acres on the Burnham Strip in El Granada from the San Mateo County Harbor District for $800,000. This is the first step in the district’s plan to build a wet-weather storage system under the strip.