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No, not those rich people who have warped our economy to their benefit and who don’t pay enough taxes. I’m talking about the 1% of Americans who serve and protect in our military and related intelligence and diplomatic services. Less than 1% of our population serves in the Armed Forces, Intelligence Services, State Department, or in reserves therefor. And yet those people are in Harm’s Way for our protection – whether it’s actual gunfire, or brain-frying microwaves at our overseas embassies, they perform service under danger for us all. Say what you will about the U.S. intelligence failures prior to the evacuation of Afghanistan (or the governmental and military collapse by Afghans, or the even more rapid abandonment of the Kurds and Syria without any diplomatic gains – at least this time we seized $9 billion in Afghan assets as leverage), the entire 20 year misadventure must inform our future global strategy, not only in response to terror – but in proactively promoting our interests by improving the lives of others worldwide. The veterans I know are proud of their service and efforts – but are most critical of the political leadership that put them in harm’s way with unworkable constraints on an undoable mission. Let’s remember the full cost of these conflicts, not only in money, but in lost and damaged lives and families. Let’s honor, not abuse, this precious asset, our Selfless Best, by NOT mis-using them again.
Holding Our Feet To The Fire:
Over 450 El Granada residents have signed a petition created by Keith Mangold to register their alarm about the potential for a catastrophic eucalyptus crown fire there, and to request broader and more immediate action by the County and Cal Fire than is currently planned. Keith and I have written about wildfire risks here several times already, so the New News is that Keith has wind weather data substantiating this critical point: during the worst wildfire conditions, winds are from the E and NE. Yet the County fuel break actions planned are for a N or NW wind – which is the dominant wind for most of the year. Further, Keith is raising doubts about the $150 million estimate mentioned by CalFire at an MCC meeting – he believes it is overblown, which helps delay action. Members of the community and the MCC have also expressed concerns about the need for ‘fire risk modelling’ to better substantiate real risks and funding requirements, and about the need for revegetation. Hopefully, a forthcoming $75,000 County scoping study will clarify priorities. The petition and related concerns will be on the MCC agenda for Sept. 22nd.
The Government We Deserve:
I can’t tell you what a joy it is to have residents as constructively involved in local matters as we have here in the MidCoast. Not only do we have this Buzz, but with largely unpaid Board members on MWSD, GCSD, SAM, the MCC and other County Boards (like Planning & Fire), we have people with initiative, intelligence and energy leading (dare I say “pushing”) our elected officials in the Right Direction. And the County has responded to some degree with: funding EG Median Eucalyptus removal, pursuing grants to study wildfire threats and solutions, and for a County “wildfire Czar”; creating a new county committee to handle wildfire fuel reduction; a new advisory board for wildfire (on which I expect an MCC member to serve); a Pump Track (soon, Chris, soon); and now CalTrans actually removing SOME of the eucalyptus on Hwy 1 evacuation choke points! So our efforts have helped. Not that it hasn’t taken a year or more, but I take hope for our future as long as we have those involved residents, like the Wildfire Warriors (Graham Wood, Susan Casey, Danny Terwey, Keith Mangold, Karen Allanson, and dozens more) and the Medio Bridge Busters (Pat Tierney, Alec Hogg, and others, with over 1,000 signatures of their own). Now, if someone would also catch the Midnight Dumpsters who are spiking pollutants in our sewers…
The Sewer We Deserve:
Dir. Ric Lohman stated at the last MWSD meeting that SAM had a good month of August, and seems to have a handle on the ‘upsets’ at the plant. However, this isn’t over yet. SAM has met with several local brewer/distillers regarding a program to measure their effluents, but it’s not clear they are the problem. I have asked and been answered on a bunch of written questions to Brown & Caldwell (B&C), the national consultancy helping SAM get a handle on their effluent problems. I’ll write here with detailed implications once I get more data, but there is still a disagreement on the fact foundation surrounding this year-long problem. What I believe IS more or less clear are the following:
- B&C has never before seen spikes in the pollution as large as SAM has received, and which have destabilized processing. That’s a pre-emminent, national firm talking.
- We’re headed to close to $2 million in costs to deal with those issues.
- “Not all flows are created equal”. That is, effluent from commercial establishments carries more material to process than residential.
- The founding agreement for SAM considers only volume of flow, but not the CONTENTS of that flow. In fairness, that needs to change.
- The illegitimate HMB lawsuit against its partners in SAM has been further undermined, because during this drought, SAM is using the Wet Weather Storage Facility as an Equalization Basin to hold some northerly flows back until the plant has time to process the excess waste it’s getting. This is the fifth (5th) tangible benefit HMB is receiving from the Inter-tie Pipeline System that it is suing neighbors to NOT pay for…
Thank You For Supporting – Big Wave?
Following my obviously non-influential article (Are You Paying For Big Wave?) and email and speech to MWSD about the financial pitfalls of accepting ‘donation’ of a mile-long mainline water extension for the benefit of that development, the Board voted last week to accept this new asset into their system, with a 1 year warranty on a perpetual asset in an earthquake and tsunami zone. There was no financial analysis presented to show the revenues and expenses over the asset life cycle and to ensure that current ratepayers would be held harmless, yet there clearly are additional costs – and risks – to that extension. Also concerns about both undermined water and fire security were raised by residents/ratepayers at that meeting. Board members mentioned during discussion that Big Wave would now be eligible to pay for the MWSD Bond payments, or that the growth of ratepayers would defray costs for others – but: a) when has MWSD ever turned a profit on water? – just look at their water reserves; and b) why wasn’t this homework done and presented to the Board and the Public BEFORE a decision was made? Not only was there no analysis shown, there were no guarantees provided. We are bearing this risk.
Courage in Government?
The Governor’s emergency declaration which allowed local gov’t Boards to use Zoom instead of in-person meetings will expire Sept. 30th. I and other members of the MCC with vulnerable families have expressed unwillingness to attend in person with COVID-19 raging nationwide. But the ever-flawed Brown Act will make it illegal to Zoom fully unless the legislature passes an update, or the Governor extends the emergency. Most of these jobs are unpaid, voluntary efforts. Without this change I expect a wave of cancelled meetings, or resignations. And why hasn’t the Governor already extended it? Could it be he doesn’t have the courage to risk offending GOP voters by admitting there’s a Pandemic while a recall election is pending?
Turning America Red?
Say what you will about Anti-Vaxx and Anti-Mask propaganda from Russia, China and the GOP, it has been working. For the first time ever, the entire country is now Red. I can recall my Mass. bumper sticker after Nixon won 49 states – it said “Don’t Blame Me, I’m From Massachusetts” – but now there are NO holdout states in the face of the COVID wave.
The vaccines aren’t perfect (Surprise?!?), but together with masking, testing, and contact tracing, they are the only ways out of this pandemic. New variants Lamda and Mu are now here. With the reopening of schools across the country, and holiday travel just past, I don’t see this stopping until children are vaccinated (like for Polio, Measles, Smallpox – the easy stuff you may recall). And it’s not just 675,000 COVID deaths, it’s well over a million ‘excess deaths’ which have happened since Jan, 2020 – and which some states refuse to acknowledge were triggered by the Pandemic. We really are all in this together.
Back to the Mountain Top:
My dog just hiked up to the top of Montara Mountain and tells me it’s STILL fenced off. Didn’t we have SFPUC promises about a year ago that they’d restore the damage and habitat they desecrated?
Video Of The Week:
[WARNING: Contains Satire, which may be as harmful to your health as….]
Quarry Park Fire Petition Tabling Materials Draft 07 22 2021
 Quarry Park Wildfire Petition Tabling Materials
Prepared by Keith, and building upon his prior presentations, this version shows on pages 8 and 9, that the dominant winds during peak fire danger are from ENE, and NOT from the west.
 Dieguez Speech on Big Wave Burdening Other Ratepayers:
 Real COVID-19 Death Toll:
It’s 1,171,000+ excess deaths by Dec. 1 of this year, and counting. To view the IHME graph with those numbers, click the word “Excess”. Not counting those deaths is like believing the Russian Mafia when they say “he died from a heart attack” after they push a guy off a 10th floor balcony. Life insurance companies make billions on the accuracy of their actuarial predictions, and 1 million excess deaths isn’t some accident – it’s COVID-19 and all the impacts on our national health care system caused by the Pandemic.
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.