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September 2012

Coalinga Museum: 1934 Richfield Gas Station & Much Older Fossils

Museum Info

I recently discovered this gem in Coalinga, California, detouring off I-5 to avoid the massive traffic backup caused by an ongoing repaving project on the interstate. Incidentally, Caltrans' website info on this project is woefully out of date, so if you head down that way, I advise checking with someone other than Caltrans for reliable local info. Better yet, take 101, or get really adventurous and take 25 out of Hollister (the scenic route formerly known as the Air-Line Highway, east of the Pinnacles), then cut over to Coalinga and back onto 1-5 well south of the construction mess.

Best of all possible solutions, if you have the time: Ride Amtrak (coast and valley trains). I tried it last week and had a nice big table to work on, with power outlets and free wi-fi for my laptop and smartphone. There I was, sipping halfway decent Amtrak coffee, looking out the window at the passing scene; goofbusting, riptiding, wandering & wondering, and playing Scrabble on Facebook; and coasting along on steel wheels at 79 miles per hour. How cool is that?

John Maybury, Editor & Publisher

Guv Signs Hill Bill on Party Bus Drinking: Crackdown on Booze Cruises

Assemblyman Jerry Hill and the parents of Brett Studebaker – a Burlingame teenager who died in a car crash after a night of drinking on a party bus – held a news conference September 25 to celebrate the governor’s signing of Assembly Bill 45 on Sunday.

The bill, named in Brett’s memory, closes a loophole in current law that holds limousine operators, but not charter buses, responsible for underage drinking. The bill would require party bus companies to ask the person making a reservation if alcohol will be served and if there will be anyone on board under 21 years old.

Under the legislation, bus companies must notify the person making the reservation that they need to designate an adult chaperone. Bus companies will be subject to a fine of $2,000, license suspension or revocation if they do not comply. Bus drivers will be subject to a misdemeanor for noncompliance.  Chaperones also will be subject to a misdemeanor for providing alcohol to a minor.

In recent years, the party bus industry has expanded, but state law has not kept pace with regulating these vehicles which are essentially “booze cruises.”

Brett Studebaker, 19, was killed on February 6, 2010, when he crashed his car into a sound wall on Highway 101 near San Mateo after spending several hours drinking on a party bus.

In response to his death, Assemblyman Hill introduced AB 45. The need for the legislation was heighted by the death in August of Natasha Noland, 25, of Santa Cruz, who died on July 27 after falling out of a party bus on Highway 17 near Los Gatos while fighting with a 20-year-old girl.  Both women had been drinking.

Under AB 45 – which takes effect January 1, 2013 - responsibility for ensuring that underage drinking does not occur on party buses would be shared by bus companies, drivers and chaperones 25 years and older:

Ø  The party bus company must ask the person making a reservation if alcohol will be served and if there will be passengers who are under 21 years old.  The party bus company then notifies the person making the reservation that there must be a designated chaperone on board if there will be minors and alcohol on the bus.
Ø  Before the party bus trip starts, the bus driver is required to have the chaperone sign a form outlining the chaperone’s responsibilities to prevent underage drinking.
Ø  The chaperone must check IDs to determine who is under 21 years of age and read a statement to those passengers: Consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 is illegal. It is also illegal for an adult to provide alcoholic beverages to a person under 21. If you consume alcoholic beverages, this trip will be terminated and all payments for transportation services shall be forfeited and not subject to refund.
Ø  Once the trip starts, the chaperone is responsible for letting the bus driver know if underage passengers are drinking.  If so, the trip will be terminated and everyone is dropped off at the point of origin.  The chaperone is responsible for making sure the intoxicated underage drinker/s gets home safely.
Ø  If the group says there will be alcohol but no one under 21, and the bus driver has reason to believe that people under 21 are on board, the bus driver shall verify the age of all passengers.  If the bus driver finds someone under 21, then the trip will be terminated unless alcohol is locked under the bus.
Ø  If the group says they have people under 21 and no alcohol, but the bus driver has reason to believe there's alcohol, the bus driver shall verify if alcohol is on board.  If they find alcohol, then the trip will be terminated unless alcohol is locked under bus.
Ø  Penalties: Bus driver – misdemeanor.  Chaperone – misdemeanor and potentially liability for personal injury or property damage caused by underage drinking.  Party bus company – fines up to $2,000, 30 day license suspension, or license revocation.

Nate Solov
Office of Assemblymember Jerry Hill

Election Reform Victories: Online and Same-Day Voter Registration

On September 19, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Senator Leland Yee launched California’s online voter registration system, increasing security, reducing cost, and allowing easier participation in the democratic process. Yee's legislation created this new online voter registration system, which is expected to increase voter turnout.

On September 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed a series of election reform bills, including SB 1001 (Yee) to modernize California’s campaign disclosure database and AB 1436 (Feuer) to allow same-day voter registration. Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) authored same-day registration in 2010 (SB 1140) and co-authored this year’s AB 1436. Yee also authored SB 376 to allow online voter registration, which was implemented last week. In 2012, Yee also passed SCR 81 t o declare tomorrow, September 25 as Voter Registration Day and SJR 29 to support a federal investigation on voter suppression laws.
Yee issued the following statement in response to these new laws: “I am thrilled to see Governor Brown sign these important bills. While some states are suppressing the vote, California is leading with real election reforms. Online registration and same-day registration will help increase participation in our elections and will strengthen our democracy. This is a proud day for California.”
(916) 651-4008   |   WWW.SENATE.CA.GOV/YEE

Guv Signs Yee Bill on Open Govt. to Help Stop Brown Act Violations

SACRAMENTO – On September 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) that will help stop violations of California’s local government transparency statute known as the Brown Act.
SB 1003 adds language to the current Brown Act to allow for injunctive and declaratory relief for past violations, which will more closely mirror the Bagley-Keene Act – the open government statute for state agencies. In other words, the new law allows members of the public to file a lawsuit – under certain circumstances – against local agencies that violate the open government statute.
“SB 1003 ensures the public has the tools necessary to hold public agencies that violate the Brown Act to account,” said Yee. “Absent this new law, some public agencies would continue to violate the public trust without consequence.”
“This is an important tool for the public to enforce the Brown Act and ensures California’s open meeting law does not become toothless,” said Jim Ewert, General Counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

The bill comes as a result of McKee v. County of Tulare, in which the Court ruled that there could be no injunctive and declaratory relief for a past violation because the Tulare Board of Supervisors appeared to stop violating the law after the lawsuit was filed. Instead, the petitioners would need to initiate a new lawsuit if the board returned to its previous bad behavior.
The ruling created the potential for an endless loop – violation, followed by corrective behavior once a lawsuit is filed, followed by a violation again – without any real penalty.
“The Brown Act was designed to bring transparency to government, and not to serve as means to play dodge ball to avoid accountability,” said Yee. “SB 1003 will close this loophole and provide sunshine into the actions of our public agencies.”

(916) 651-4008   |   WWW.SENATE.CA.GOV/YEE

Recology Wants More Money—Again

By Lionel Emde
Riptide Correspondent
Pacifica City Council's meeting September 24 featured consideration of the fourth rate increase since Recology bought the failed Coastside Scavenger in 2010. Since no council member has ever voted against any of the previous rate increases, we expected lots of handwringing from election-year-fearing politicians, but no ratepayer-protective action. The council voted 5-0 to hear the matter November 26.
Pacifica's garbage collection rates, already the highest in two counties (San Mateo and San Francisco) will rise by 1.89 percent next January if the increase is approved by the council. Although Recology had initially requested a 1.42 percent increase in rates, the consultant hired to review the rate application provided justification to raise rates by 1.89 percent. Ratepayers are paying the consultant (HF&H Consultants, LLC) $39,446 for the privilege of recommending rates even higher than Recology's initial request.
Rates for a 20-gallon can will rise from $22.95 to $23.38 per month, and a 32-gallon can goes from $35.95 to $36.66 per month.
One interesting section of the rate application review disallowed the request for $14,954, which the consultant noted was for "...charitable or political donations (that) are disallowed as part of the total annual cost of operations... ."
Unanswered by the consultant's review is the question of why mid-coast residents (Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada) pay half of what Pacificans pay for garbage collection and very similar services. That area is also serviced by Recology of the Coast, using trucks run from the same headquarters on Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica.
Pacifica has had the highest solid waste collection rates in the county for years, as was initially revealed by a 2006 audit and rate comparison done by the City of Pacifica. The reason for that is another unanswered question.

Habitat for Humanity: ReStore

ReStore is a resale business that sells new and used building materials and home improvement items to the general public. All materials are donated by local retail businesses, building contractors, suppliers, and individuals, and are made available for sale to the public at 50 percent to 90 percent below retail prices.

All donations are tax deductible, and proceeds go back to the local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate to build houses for families in our community. Each ReStore is operated by a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate and each one is unique. Most ReStores focus on home improvement goods like furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances.

Our ReStores need you to donate, shop, and volunteer! Please contact your local Habitat ReStore for more information, 1411 Industrial Road, San Carlos. If you have something to donate, I will be happy to coordinate and lend a hand. Just let me know.

Pierre Messerli

Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein

Dr. Jill Stein, Harvard Medical School graduate and single-payer advocate, discusses the importance of health care as a human right through a Medicare for All system that provides quality comprehensive care, preserves patient choice, and puts people before profits.

Jill Stein for President -- A Green New Deal for America
Campaign website:
First TV ad:

First We Kill All the Spellcheckers

We think the reporter means "consolation," but his spellchecker has a "mind" of its own. See paragraph 3:

SAN RAFAEL (KCBS) – The Marin County Transit District Board of Directors planned to take a crucial vote on the future of its decades-old relationship with Golden Gate Transit Monday, with dozens of jobs and $2 million in estimated annual savings at stake.

Golden Gate Transit has provided bus service for the county for 40 years. But, its current contract was set to expire Dec. 31, 2013. And, transit officials were exploring other, potentially cheaper options – namely, partnering with a private bus operator that is expected to save Marin County $2 million annually.

The budget savings would likely be little conciliation to the estimated 125 employees of the Golden Gate Transit bus system who would lose their jobs if Marin County elects to cut ties.

[KCBS’ Jeffrey Schaub Reports]