Saturday, September 29, 2007

Almost, but not quite

An annonymous alert reader sent me the link to what was said to be my previous column taking the city to task for not participating in a countywide homeless count event. Unfortunately, it was a link to an article by Bob Brownne, a Tracy Press reporter.

It still echoes my most recent column, which talks about homelessness in Tracy and the people who are actually willing to do something about it.

The thing that galled me most about Tracy not participating in the count is the message it sends about the pulse city leaders have on the community. Action to address the issue would be nice, but given recent history, I guess I'll settle for it being acknowledged.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday random thoughts...

• Before any angry city officials call me about my Friday column, I have this to say: If you were one of the few tackling homelessness and poverty issues head on, why are you coming after me? Your record will speak louder than I can.

• By the way, I wrote a column (which I can't find online to post for you) about the city's refusal to participate in the federal homeless count ealier this year, back in January. Maybe the city will change its tune and do something next time.

• Thanks to frequent Press contributor for blowing the lid off the failure of the 2006 bean festival — revealing that the Chamber of Commerce's didn't want to take the fall.

• Some folks have forgotten what it's like to be a kid. Or, maybe more accurately, they haven't forgotten.

This is what headlines look like when people are fighting for freedom.

• What's the point of the U.S. debt limit if Congress keeps raising it as soon as it comes into play? I wish I could do that with my bank: "My credit card is maxed out. Give me more credit so I can rack up debt I don't intend to pay back." Yeah, that'd go over real well.

• Calvin and Hobbes quote of the week: "I think we'd know normal if we saw it."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Riding tragedy to victory?

You have to be either seriously impressed or deeply disgusted (or possibly a little of both) about what Rudy Giuliani has done with his political career in the past six years.

His biggest claim to fame is that his city was attacked by terrorists and he didn't climb under his mayoral desk in fear that day. That day, he appeared a pillar of strength, even while his city was covered in soot and he could do nothing to stop the disaster. Unfortunately, his actual record in preparing New York City to deal with a terrorist attack is a far cry from that image.

Even after seeing the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Giuliani failed to speed through a plan that would have allowed different rescue departments (police, fire, etc) to communicate through one unified system. Instead, communication on Sept. 11, 2001, was an absolute nightmare. And it's only one example of how his claims as a terrorism fighter don't mesh with his actual record. (For a more detailed examination of his record, read this.)

That hasn't stopped Giuliani from making his "experience with terrorism" the focal point of his campaign. But when you think about it, it's like me saying my house was once burglarized, so I'm now qualified to be the head of the Tracy police's crime scene investigation unit.

How well has he connected himself — and his political future — to the Sept. 11 attacks and people's emotional reaction to that day? His supporters are organizing a "$9.11 for Rudy" campaign, in which donors will be asked to chip in 9 dollars and 11 cents.

How touching. I'm sure the victims' families are honored.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Faith into action?

"It’s an opportunity to stand up for your faith and put it into action."

So said Millennium High School senior Chelsea Facciolla, when asked by a Tracy Press reporter why she and other teens would pray around school flagpoles before class early next week.

I always thought the best way to put faith into action was to go do something, like volunteer your time to causes that help the hungry, the poor, the sick and the lonely.

I think one of the problems about certain religious sects is the focus on praying. Praying and meditation is great for centering yourself, but don't expect God to magically do what you can accomplish with your own two hands.

Isn't that why we were gifted with brains and brawn in the first place?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday random thoughts...

• To convince the California High Speed Rail Commissioners that the bullet train needs to go through the Altamont Pass, I'm extending a chance to see the problem firsthand. I will offer free weekday commuter excursions to any CAHSR commissioner between Tracy and Oakland beginning at 7 a.m. If that doesn't convince them, nothing will.

• Overheard quote of the week: "I shouldn't drink this morning. I'll be the designated driver." (at 9:30 a.m. Sunday before a SF 49ers game.)

• The kids at West High have already seen how powerful the "Invisible Children" movie is. If you haven't watched it, you should.

• What's wrong with this picture?: Enlisted military personnel in the service of their country get put on trial when they're suspected of wrongly killing civilians. Blackwater USA types, who aren't subject to the standards the military is, get an "investigation" and a free trip home from Iraq.

• Mountain House is getting its very own library to go with its golf course. Now, if it only gets a supermarket, a gas station, and maybe a restaurant, and it'll be a real town.

• At the risk of sounding repetitive, you should really check out the new Grand Theatre if you haven't. You'll forget you're in Tracy. Seriously.

• Calvin and Hobbes quote of the week: "The days are getting colder." "Yes." "Bugs are dying by the truckload! Ha ha ha! Good riddance to 'em all! ... I like fall."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grand evening indeed

The glitz and glamour of Friday's gala at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts made me wonder if I was still in Tracy.

The theater itself is beautiful, a tasteful mix of classic art-deco, modern, and modern-retro styling that makes use of the existing architecture and buildings while giving a sense that there was, indeed, some major effort put in to make the place worthy of its name.

The deco and modern lines melted away once inside the main theater, however, yielding a classic stage and seating, complete with box seats and a literally glittering dome.

The event that switched on the neon for the first time in 30 years was memorable, too, with Central Avenue turned into a tented enclave that hosted some of Tracy's most notable (and most self-important) people.

But you take the good with the bad, and for all the self-importance and conspicuous consumption of the celebration, it was a worthy pat on the back for the folks who have given Tracy a crown jewel downtown, even if some of us only tagged along for the ride.

Let's hope that the general public embraces the theater like the crowd Friday night. It would be a shame if the theater again has to close its doors.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday random thoughts...

• End of the hype: The Grand Theatre's opening tonight, and I'm going to be there. Given the opportunity, I couldn't pass up the most-anticipated event in Tracy this year.

• A blow to totalitarian regimes right here at home: The California Supreme Court ruled that a high school had no right to ban a school newspaper editorial that painted English-learning students as illegal immigrants. After all, being insulting is an American right.

• My how quickly things change: It wasn't long ago that West High was the strongest football team in town and Tracy High was lucky to score a touchdown in a game.

• Frankly, I'm not sure Americans need any more incentive to watch vapid TV programming.

• A positive, albeit vague, first report: Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert says she's got a small residential developer planning to build green when it builds senior housing units for various income levels. No word yet as to who it is and where the project will be, though. More later.

• I'm guessing PG&E was hoping that its waiver for a pipeline under a populated area would never be challenged. That way, it could apply the same standard to other sites all over the state, and probably save a ton of money in the process.

• Calvin and Hobbes quote of the week: "Trusting parents can be hazardous to your health."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Save Sen. Craig

Republican Sen. Larry Craig has been thrown to the wolves by his own party because he tried to solicit a stranger (who turned out to be a police officer) in a men's restroom.

Don't let the statements fool you. They're doing this because it appears shameful for a member of the GOP to be engaged in any same-sex activity, given the party base's strict no-gay stance.

He isn't being forced to resign because he pled guilty to a crime (if he were in a bar fight and busted a guy's nose, Craig wouldn't be able to fit his Senatorial supporters into his office). And it isn't because he was committing adultery. (if he were caught cheating with another woman, people would say they were disappointed but to leave it alone because it's part of his personal life.) This is simply because of the event's tie to homosexuality.

Yes, Craig has proven indiscreet in his personal life, and, just judging from this lone incident, he might not be a great husband. But that's not nearly enough to effectively exile him from Congress, not when folks who likely committed real crimes against the public interest (Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, to name one) remain in the Capitol.

Voters should have the chance to accept or reject Sen. Craig based on his record, his public decision-making and his integrity in office. Unfortunately, his colleagues have decided that that isn't as important as publicly shaming a man who's been associated with homosexuality in one lone instance.

Now that is truly shameful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept. 11 has passed again

Six years later, and all have figured out that America needs protecting, but many still haven't learned why America needs protecting.

My thoughts are here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday random thoughts...

• If you look carefully, you can see the newest lane of Interstate 205. Although I get the feeling that we'll need 4 lanes in each direction as soon as teh 3-lane model is up and running.

• Will the city's new "high performance training" yield high performance results?

• Downtown's being turned into the center for all things bean in California. And you know what? I'm actually looking forward to it. Some more chili cooks wouldn't hurt, though.

• It's completion was always a foregone conclusion: Tracy Hills is back on the City Council's radar. And Evelyn Tolbert's abstention from Tuesday's vote might even be a signal that she's ready to run for mayor and away from that contentious issue.

• Friday night lights tonight mean fall's here, regardless of the calendar. And I've been waiting since mid-April. Because that's when the S.F. Giants' season was effectively over.

• I can't wait to see how everyone spins this one. Let the shirk-off and BS-fest begin.

• Calvin and Hobbes quote of the week: "I don't need to compromise my principles, because they don't have the slightest bearing on what happens to me anyway."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tolbert's coming-out party?

Tuesday's upcoming meeting of the South San Joaquin County Republicans will serve as a campaign kick-off as well as a remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001.

My guess is that Tracy Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert will be there and will use the opportunity to announce her candidacy for mayor in 2008.

Anyone care to bet against it?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Credit wipe out

It appears thiefs need only a little water and a cotton cloth to wipe your signature clean off your credit or debit card.

Just moisten your card and let it sit that way for a couple hours. Then, wipe clean. And viola! No more pesky signature to get in the way of identity theft.

How did I discover this? Well, my cell phone took a dive into the Stanislaus River at about midnight on Labor Day and I dove in after it (without removing my wallet, mind you). The next day, I decided to dry off my cards with my shirt as I discovered they were still damp while buying iced tea. And now, to go along with my ruined phone, I have a T-shirt with a beautiful blue streak on the stomach.

So now you know how a thief can easily wipe off your signature. And not to jump into bodies of water with your wallet. Unless you want a stained shirt.